INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The open looks Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh took advantage of to help the Heat win Game 3 disappeared in Game 4 and so did Miami’s lead over Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Miami’s Erik Spoelstra won the coaching battle with the Pacers’ Frank Vogel in Game 3, using mobile post players Haslem and Bosh primarily as jump shooters to keep them away from the bigger, brawnier Roy Hibbert and David West.
Vogel countered Tuesday night with a simple adjustment: putting Hibbert and West in better position to step out and contest shots without sacrificing rebounding. And it worked, eliminating Miami’s normally excellent floor spacing and making the Heat’s offense appear unsettled.The Pacers won 99-92.
Hibbert finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds to lead Indiana to a 99-92 victory that tied the series at two games apiece and helped the Pacers regain a little swagger heading into a pivotal Game 5 this Thursday night at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.
In Game 3, Haslem and Bosh combined to make 14 of 19 shots and score 32 points, mostly on jumpers. This time, they were 4 for 11 and combined for 13 points.
The Heat shot 39 percent and never found a consistent rhythm.
Indiana also re-established its dominance inside. The Pacers shot 50 percent, outrebounded the Heat 49-30 and outscored them 50-32 in the paint. They relentlessly attacked the basket, continually won the battle for loose balls, dominated the glass and turned the tables on Miami yet again.
The Pacers revved up the crowd with an opening 11-0 run, got the Heat in foul trouble and answered every challenge Miami posed in a physical game that had bodies flying, tempers flaring and James stunned after fouling out of a playoff game for only the second time in his career.
Indiana believed this was the only way it could get back into the best-of-seven series after giving home-court advantage back to Miami two nights earlier.
The players promised to treat Game 4 as if they were playing a decisive seventh game, and it showed.
The Heat now face a stunning must-win scenario Thursday night. If they lose Game 5, they’ll return to Indy for Game 6 fighting for their playoff lives.They will try to figure out what went wrong in a game full of oddities.
Bosh crashed to the court clutching his right knee after a first-half collision. In the second half, he limped to the locker room after appearing to twist his right ankle on a foul call but returned a few minutes later trying to shake off the injury. Wade limped noticeably during the first half and wound up in foul trouble, too. Miami’s three All-Stars were a dismal 14 of 39 from the field.
Still, Miami nearly took command of the series.
“We had them right where we wanted them but every time we would get a stop, especially in the fourth quarter, we didn’t come up with the rebound,” said Bosh. “It was there for us, but we didn’t capitalize.”Nobody was more frustrated than James, who was called for a technical foul in the first quarter and four fouls over the final 12 minutes — the last an offensive foul. After walking from one end of the court to the Miami bench, James sat disbelievingly on a press table and spent the final 56 seconds mumbling to the officials.
Again he promised to make amends.
“It was a couple of fouls that I didn’t feel like were fouls, personal fouls on me, but that’s how the game goes sometimes,” James said.