Sunday, February 18, 2018

Heat claws back in

INDIANAPOLIS — The coveted NBA championship, the one LeBron James needs to validate everything, was vanishing.

With 18,000 towel-waving fans roaring like the engines at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Pacers had knocked the Heat to the floor and to the edge of elimination on Sunday.

James didn't panic. He simply picked up his teammates and carried them to a win.

And his time, Dwyane Wade helped.

James has 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, and Wade scored 30 — 22 in the second half — as Miami evened its East semifinal series at 2-2 against Indiana with a 101-93 victory.

"I felt like I had to do whatever it took to win," said James, who played all but four minutes.

With All-Star forward Chris Bosh injured, the James-Wade tag team saved the Heat.

"Me and 'Bron had it going," said Wade, who bounced back from the worst playoff game of his career — five points on 2-of-13 shooting — with one of his best. "We played off of each other very well. We both were aggressive at the same time. That's beautiful basketball for the Miami Heat when we play that way."

The Heat heads home back in control of the best-of-seven series, which is down to a best-of-three with two on Miami's floor.

"It's still going to be a dogfight," James said.

Former Florida star Udonis Haslem, with a large bandage covering a nasty cut over his right eye that required nine stitches, added 14 points for Miami.

For a while, the Heat's season was slipping away.

The Pacers led by 10 in the third quarter and were threatening to run away as in Game 3. Then James and Wade took over. They scored 38 consecutive points in one stretch bridging the second and third quarters and combined to score 28 of Miami's 30 in the third when.

"LeBron had that look," Heat forward Shane Battier said. "And when he has that look and Dwyane has that look, you want to run through a wall."

Wade had nine rebounds and six assists, erasing the ugly memory of Game 3 when he also had a confrontation with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. The next day Wade visited his former Marquette coach Tom Crean, who is now at Indiana.

Wade — who had his bothersome left knee drained before Game 3, according to — said Crean had film for him.

"I was able to be a student of the game," Wade said. "Just figuring out what I needed to do differently to help our team get this win."

Danny Granger scored 20 and Paul George 13 to lead the Pacers. Center Roy Hibbert, so dominant at both ends in Game 3, had just 10 points and was in foul trouble in the second half.

Indiana coach Frank Vogel second-guessed his decision to keep Hibbert and David West on the bench for a long stretch after halftime. But it was the Pacers' inability to stop Wade and James that was the difference.

"You get the ball out of one of those guy's hands and it gets to the other guy's," he said. "It's not like one superhero and a bunch of role guys."

Granger's 3 had given Indiana a 61-51 lead and the Pacers, outhustling the Heat to loose balls, appeared poised to take a commanding lead in the series.

But that was when James and Wade put on a jaw-dropping spectacle, combining for all but two points in a 25-5 run that put Miami up 76-66.

MIAMI (101): Battier 1-7 0-0 3, James 14-27 12-16 40, Turiaf 0-0 0-0 0, Chalmers 3-9 0-0 8, Wade 13-23 2-6 30, Anthony 1-2 2-2 4, Cole 0-1 0-0 0, Haslem 5-6 4-4 14, Miller 1-3 0-0 2, J.Jones 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 38-80 20-28 101.

INDIANA (93): Granger 8-18 0-0 20, West 3-8 2-2 8, Hibbert 4-9 2-4 10, Hill 2-9 2-2 8, George 4-11 4-4 13, Hansbrough 2-5 4-4 8, Barbosa 3-10 2-2 8, Collison 6-7 4-6 16, D.Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Amundson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 33-79 20-24 93.

Miami 18 28 30 25— 101

Indiana 25 29 16 23— 93

3-Point GoalsMiami 5-12 (Wade 2-2, Chalmers 2-5, Battier 1-3, Miller 0-1, J.Jones 0-1), Indiana 7-22 (Granger 4-9, Hill 2-4, George 1-5, Collison 0-1, Barbosa 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMiami 55 (James 18), Indiana 45 (Hibbert 9). AssistsMiami 20 (James 9), Indiana 17 (George 5). Total FoulsMiami 24, Indiana 28. TechnicalsGranger. A18,165 (18,165).

Late Saturday: Thunder puts Lakers on brink

LOS ANGELES — With Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant engineering yet another late comeback, the Thunder pushed Kobe Bryant and the Lakers to the brink.

Westbrook had 10 of his 37 points during a stirring fourth-quarter rally and Durant scored 31 including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left as Oklahoma City seized control of the second-round series with a 103-100 victory over Los Angeles late Saturday in Game 4.

Serge Ibaka scored 14 points and the second-seeded Thunder took a 3-1 lead in the West semifinal series with a rally from 13 down in the final 8 minutes.

"Everybody kept fighting," Westbrook said. "We all believed in each other. It's the playoffs. You can't afford to sit back and wonder about it."

Bryant scored 38 but was left lamenting the help he didn't get — particularly from four-time All-Star Pau Gasol, who made the unforced turnover that led to Durant's decisive 3.

"Pau has got to be more aggressive," Bryant said of Gasol, who had 10 points and five rebounds and committed three turnovers. "He's got to be aggressive, got to shoot the ball, drive to the basket, and he will next game. … (The turnover was) just a bad read on Pau's part. It happens."

OKLAHOMA CITY (103): Durant 10-18 8-10 31, Ibaka 7-11 0-0 14, Perkins 1-3 0-0 2, Westbrook 15-26 6-7 37, Sefolosha 1-2 0-0 2, Collison 0-0 0-0 0, Harden 2-11 7-8 12, Fisher 2-4 0-0 5, Mohammed 0-1 0-0 0, Cook 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 38-77 21-25 103.

L.A. LAKERS (100): World Peace 4-10 2-4 14, Gasol 4-10 2-2 10, Bynum 9-15 0-2 18, Sessions 4-9 2-2 10, Bryant 12-28 14-17 38, Blake 2-6 0-0 5, Hill 2-5 1-2 5, Barnes 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 37-86 21-29 100.

Oklahoma City 24 22 25 32— 103

L.A. Lakers 29 27 24 20— 100

3-Point GoalsOklahoma City 6-16 (Durant 3-4, Westbrook 1-2, Fisher 1-2, Harden 1-6, Sefolosha 0-1, Cook 0-1), L.A. Lakers 5-18 (World Peace 4-8, Blake 1-4, Barnes 0-1, Bryant 0-2, Sessions 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsOklahoma City 46 (Durant 13), L.A. Lakers 54 (Bynum 9). AssistsOklahoma City 16 (Westbrook 5), L.A. Lakers 19 (Sessions, Bryant 5). Total FoulsOklahoma City 23, L.A. Lakers 19. TechnicalsPerkins, Westbrook. A18,997 (18,997).

OBITUARY: Bob Boozer, an Olympic gold medalist and original Chicago Bull, died Saturday night in Omaha, Neb. He was 75. His wife, Ella, said he suffered a brain aneurysm. Mr. Boozer was also a member of the dominating 1960 U.S. Olympic team.

WARRIORS: The team is almost set to move across the San Francisco Bay from Oakland to San Francisco, reported. According to the website, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee sent a letter Friday saying the city aims to bring the team to a proposed new arena by the 2017-18 season.

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