Friday, February 23, 2018
Sports

Paul George leads Pacers past Heat in Game 5 of East final

INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George scored 31 of his 37 in the second half Wednesday night and almost single-handedly kept the Pacers alive in the Eastern Conference final with a 93-90 victory over the Heat.

The Pacers still trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. Game 6 will be played Friday night in Miami.

It took a frantic effort just to extend the series, even with the foul-plagued LeBron James held to just seven points in 23 minutes, both career playoff lows. Chris Bosh, who led the Heat with 20 points, missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

Indiana turned a 50-41 deficit into a 64-57 lead after three, then led by as much as 11 in the fourth. But Miami's last-ditch rally made it 91-90 with 16 seconds to go before Indiana held on.

Miami failed to clinch its fourth straight Eastern Conference title.

The Pacers played like a desperate team trying to save their season. They chased shooters all over the floor, ran down loose balls, even put themselves in harm's way. Lance Stephenson appeared to hurt his left shoulder in the third quarter after a hard fall and still finished the game.

But hard falls and tough plays were a theme all night for a team that had been roundly criticized for its lack of effort in Monday night's loss.

"We just played. Our backs are against the wall right now so that's all we can do," George said. "We were in a position that if we lost this game, we're going home, so I think that was in the back of everybody's minds."

Until George amped it up in the second half, it looked like the Heat would close out the series with a fourth straight win.

But unlike Game 2, when the Pacers couldn't stop Dwyane Wade and James late, the Pacers fended off the closing charge from the two-time defending champs — barely.

George's incredible ability to hit big shot after big shot and a defense that refused to give the lead away late eventually saved the Pacers, and only after they twice failed twice to take advantage of James' absence in the first half. The Pacers finally figured it out midway through the third.

"I just felt it. I felt in rhythm. I had to be aggressive," George said. "I tried to come out and be aggressive to start this game off and I was getting looks. I got hot."

George's 21 fourth-quarter points were the most ever scored in one quarter of a playoff game against Miami. The best was 20 by Michael Jordan in May 1997.

Pacers 93, Heat 90

MIAMI (90): James 2-10 2-3 7, Lewis 6-10 0-0 18, Bosh 9-21 0-0 20, Chalmers 3-4 1-1 8, Wade 7-14 2-2 18, R.Allen 5-11 2-2 15, Haslem 2-2 0-0 4, Cole 0-2 0-0 0, Battier 0-0 0-0 0, Douglas 0-0 0-0 0, Beasley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 34-75 7-8 90.

INDIANA (93): George 15-28 2-3 37, West 7-11 5-8 19, Hibbert 4-11 2-3 10, G.Hill 4-9 0-2 9, Stephenson 4-11 4-4 12, Scola 3-6 0-2 6, Watson 0-1 0-0 0, Mahinmi 0-0 0-0 0, Butler 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 37-78 13-22 93.

Miami 16 26 15 33— 90

Indiana 22 11 31 29— 93

3-Point GoalsMiami 15-31 (Lewis 6-9, R.Allen 3-6, Wade 2-3, Bosh 2-7, Chalmers 1-2, James 1-3, Cole 0-1), Indiana 6-21 (George 5-14, G.Hill 1-2, Butler 0-1, Watson 0-1, Stephenson 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMiami 40 (Bosh 10), Indiana 52 (Hibbert 13). AssistsMiami 22 (Wade 7), Indiana 13 (Stephenson 5). Total FoulsMiami 24, Indiana 16. A18,165 (18,165).

west final: Coach Scott Brooks said Thunder guard Reggie Jackson, who sprained his right ankle Tuesday night, felt good during practice on Wednesday. He also said forward Serge Ibaka, who unexpectedly came back from a left calf strain, is holding up well after playing 30 minutes on Sunday and 35 on Tuesday. … Spurs center Tiago Splitter was fined $5,000 by the NBA Wednesday for violating anti-flopping rules during the second quarter of Game 4 Tuesday night.

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