Paul George was not human, scoring 21 4th quarter points, and 37 overall in the Pacers 93-90 game 5 win to stave off elimination. The Heat now lead the series 3-2.
Game 6 will take place on Friday night from Miami. This is the first time in the Heat’s Big 3 Era that they failed to close out a series when entering game 5 with a 3-1 series lead (won previous 7 times).
The Pacers received a gift during the game, and almost blew it. LeBron James played just 13 minutes while dealing with foul trouble through the first 3 quarters, and it took a herculean effort from Paul George to keep Indiana alive.
Early on, it looked like the Heat were going to be fine without LeBron who exited the game after picking up his 2nd foul with 2:43 left in the first quarter. Miami responded by going on a 17-6 run turning an 8-point deficit into a 5-point lead.
The Pacers trailed by 2 with two minutes left in the half, but Miami closed on a 9-2 run to take a 9-point lead into half-time.
After LeBron had to exit the game with 5 fouls at the 8:33 mark of the 3rd quarter, the Pacers dominated outscoring Miami 31-15 in the frame, which included a buzzer beating 3 from Paul George to give Indiana a 64-57 lead entering the 4th.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra took a gamble going back to LeBron just 90 seconds into the 4th, and it paid off. LeBron helped turn a 7-point deficit into a tie game at 81 with 3:50 left.
That was when Paul George scored 8 of his 21 4th quarter points to put the Pacers back out in front 91-87 with 46 seconds left.
A Rashard Lewis 3 with 16 seconds left made things very interesting, but Chris Bosh missed a potential go-ahead 3 in the final seconds that sealed the win for Indiana. Lewis was huge for the Heat all game scoring 18 points on 6/9 from deep.
LeBron, on the other hand, was not. He scored a playoff career-low 7 points on 2/10 shooting in 24 minutes of action. The Pacers can’t expect something like this to happen again as this series shifts back to Miami.
Chris Bosh had his 2nd straight solid game scoring a team high 20 points. All Bosh will remember though is his missed 3 that would have given the Heat the lead. Dwyane Wade had 18 points, Ray Allen added 15 off the bench, and Mario Chalmers scored 8 points.
Aside from Paul George who along with his game-high 37 points had 6 steals, no one else on the Pacers played great. David West scored 19 points and hauled in 9 rebounds, Roy Hibbert had 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Lance Stephenson scored 12.
Stephenson was doing everything in his power to get into the heads of the Heat players, whether it was blowing in LeBron James’s ear, or joining in on the Heat’s huddle.
The Pacers out-rebounded Miami 45-38, and out-scored Miami in the paint 42-22.
Despite the result of this game, the Heat should feel pretty good about themselves. They nearly beat the Pacers with LeBron James essentially being a non-factor.
**Chris Anderson missed his 2nd straight game with a bruised left thigh. His status going forward is uncertain.