INDIANAPOLIS (CBSMiami) – An exciting game from start to finish is what basketball fans were treated to in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. In the end, the Miami Heat just had too many obstacles to overcome, falling to the Indiana Pacers 93-90 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.
LeBron James, limited by foul trouble played just 24 minutes and was held to a meager seven points, a new career playoff low. James knows that he’ll have to stay on the floor to avoid a repeat performance in Game 6 on Friday.
“Twenty-four minutes is not enough for me to make an imprint,” said James. “It is what it is. We go back home, learn from our mistakes and then get ready to play.”
James did what he could to make a difference down the stretch, assisting on a Dwyane Wade 3-pointer with 4:59 left to bring the Heat to within one. James then hit a three of his own to tie the game at 81 with 3:51 to go.
The fourth quarter belonged to Paul George though, who scored 21 of his game-high 37 points in the final 12 minutes. Every time the Heat made a big bucket to draw closer, George had an answer.
With 2:06 left and the Pacers leading by four, Rashard Lewis hit a 3-pointer to close the gap to one. George quickly answered it with another 3-pointer. Then with 1:16 left Chris Bosh hit a three to again bring the Heat within one. Twenty seconds later, there was George with yet another 3-pointer.
“I just felt it. I felt in rhythm,” George said following the game. “I had to be aggressive.”
Despite George’s heroic effort, Miami still gave themselves a chance to move on the NBA Finals in the final minute. Trailing by four with 46 seconds to go, Chris Bosh missed a 3-pointer and after a scramble for the ball the Pacers George Hill was streaking towards the Heat’s basket with nobody in front of him.
There was somebody running behind him though. LeBron chased down George for an amazing block from behind, giving the Heat new life.
Rashard Lewis hit his sixth 3-pointer with 16 seconds left, bringing Miami to within one point yet again. Following a pair of free throw misses, one by George and one by David West, the Heat had the ball trailing by two with 13.6 seconds remaining in the game.
The Heat would go for the win, sending James down the lane to draw defenders so he could kick the ball out for a Bosh corner three. The shot was off the mark, and it was the last one the Heat would take.
West would miss another free throw, but with no timeouts left for Miami there was no chance to stop the clock and advance the ball.
During Game’s 3 and 4 in Miami it was the Heat who came out after halftime with a dominating third quarter. Wednesday night Indiana took its turn, outscoring Miami 31-15 in a lop-sided third quarter to take a 64-57 lead into the final 12 minutes.
The Heat’s offensive woes stretched well beyond just this game, as the 57 points was the lowest total through three quarters for Miami all season. That’s 96 games, in case you were counting.
“You just have to manage the storm,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra following the game. “We’ll collect ourselves and get ourselves ready for another great opportunity in front of our fans.”
That great opportunity will be Friday night at the American Airlines Arena. Tipoff is set for 8:30pm.