MIAMI — Dwyane Wade was bleeding after taking a smack in the head from Tyler Hansbrough, who became the target of a retaliatory shot from Udonis Haslem a few moments later.
When that was over, the Miami Heat kept hitting the Indiana Pacers where it mattered most — the scoreboard.
LeBron James scored 30 points, Wade added 28 and the Heat moved one win away from another trip to the Eastern Conference finals with a 115-83 victory over the hurting Pacers on Tuesday night, when three flagrant fouls added more intrigue to an already physical series and Indiana watched starting forwards Danny Granger and David West leave with injuries.
“We’re in the flow,” James said. “We’re in a good flow right now. Guys know what it takes out on the floor to help us win and guys are always in position, both offensively and defensively”
The Heat outscored Indiana 74-45 after Granger sprained his left ankle and 86-58 after Wade took the shot from Hansbrough early in the second quarter. Miami leads the best-of-seven East semifinals 3-2, with Game 6 set for Indianapolis this Thursday night.
James and Wade outscored Indiana’s starters 58-45. James finished with 10 rebounds and eight assists, Shane Battier scored 13 points, Mario Chalmers had 11 rebounds and Haslem scored 10 points for Miami who never trailed, held a 22-2 edge in fast-break points and shot a franchise playoff-record 61 percent — best of any team in the playoffs this season.
“They played at their tempo,” West said. “We weren’t able to get enough stops.”
A series marked by some rough moments had perhaps its worst with 19.4 seconds remaining when Miami reserve center Dexter Pittman went across the lane to send a forearm into the chin area of Indiana’s Lance Stephenson who had made a choke sign toward James during the Pacers’ Game 3 win.
Pittman was caught on camera winking after the foul. Stephenson had X-rays for a possible collarbone problem but wrote on Twitter two hours after the game that he was fine.
“I don’t know if that was retaliation. … I’m sure the NBA will and do what they have to do,” Granger said.
James said he hadn’t seen a replay of Pittman’s hit.
“There’s no room for dirty plays in our game, period — no matter if it comes from us or Indiana or anyone in the league at this point,” James said. “We’re all one group and at the end of the day you don’t want to see anyone get injured.”
Hansbrough hit Wade early in the second quarter and Wade wound up with a cut over his right eye, as Haslem did at Indiana in Game 4. Haslem retaliated against Hansbrough not long afterward, earning a flagrant-1 foul that left the Pacers saying it should merit a flagrant-2 and automatic ejection.
Said Haslem: “I’ve seen worse in this league in nine years. Nobody wants to give an inch and everybody’s going hard.”
Indiana trailed 19-8 early, then had a chance to tie when Granger lined up a 3-pointer with 3:03 left in the half. It didn’t go down. He did, landing on James’ foot.
The Heat outscored Indiana 8-2 the rest of the half, with James, who had been guarded by Granger for much of the series, scoring seven of them, the last a layup just before the halftime horn sounded with Miami going into the break leading 49-40.
Granger tried to play in the second half, lasting about 3 minutes before realizing his ankle wasn’t going to let him continue. X-rays were negative, which was about the only piece of good news for Indiana.
By then, Miami was rolling.
James leaned back to catch a slightly wayward pass from Chalmers near the Miami bench, firing it in one motion to Wade for an easy score as the reigning MVP toppled on Heat assistant coach Ron Rothstein. Mike Miller even made the crowd roar for defending Leandro Barbosa and forcing a missed 3-pointer late in the quarter — the highlight there being Miller was playing while missing one sneaker.
When Granger left, it was 56-45. By the end of the quarter, Miami’s lead was 76-57 and the margin reached 37 in the final moments.
So now the Heat are one win from the East finals, after a series filled with twists and turns.
“This is our challenge right now, to leave it behind us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “A lot of good things tonight but we have to focus on the next one.”
Photo: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
IN YOUR FACE: Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade (3) shoots over Indiana Pacers’ Leandro Barbosa, right, during the first half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, in Miami on Tuesday, May 22.