Heat shoot for big lead over Pacers
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Heat will try to inch one step closer to a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals Monday night when they host the Indiana Pacers for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals at American Airlines Arena.
The Heat, who have won the last two NBA titles and lost three years ago in the Finals, took a 2-1 series lead on Saturday night with a 99-87 win.
Miami is a perfect 6-0 as the home team in the postseason.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade fueled Miami's strong third quarter and Ray Allen's sharp-shooting helped hold Indiana at bay in the fourth.
The Heat trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half and didn't take their first lead until midway through the third, when James capped an 8-0 burst with a two-handed, fastbreak dunk for a 52-51 advantage.
James and Wade combined for 22 points in the third -- the same amount as the Pacers -- to help the Heat take a 71-64 spread into the fourth.
Indiana got as close as two in the final frame before Allen took over, draining all four of his 3-point tries en route to 16 points as the Heat pulled away down the stretch.
"This team has proven to be resilient," Allen said of his team battling back despite trailing by double digits. "In bad situations, we pick it back up."
James finished with 26 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals, while Wade added 23 points, four boards and four assists for the Heat. Allen was the only other double-digit scorer for Miami.
Paul George, who suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of Indiana's 87-83 loss in Game 2, supplied 17 points and Roy Hibbert tallied 16 points for the Pacers, who had won five straight road games.
David West chipped in 13 points, while Lance Stephenson tallied 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Indiana took advantage of a sluggish start from Miami Saturday and stifled the Heat for much of the opening frame, forcing seven turnovers and holding the home team to 6-of-16 shooting from the floor over the first 12 minutes. The Pacers held a 21-14 lead after one and the 14 first-quarter points was a season-low for the two-time champions.
With the margin at seven following a Chris Bosh triple early in the second, Luis Scola supplied back-to-back buckets to spark a 10-2 burst that Rasual Butler capped with a trey for a 37-22 cushion with 6:22 on the clock.
The Heat clamped down defensively from there, holding Indiana without a field goal over the next five-plus minutes to claw their way back into the game.
"We had no choice but to regather," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said of his team falling behind by double digits. "It was good to see us bounce back in the second quarter and show some toughness."
The Heat turned a four-point deficit at the start of the second half into a seven-point cushion thanks to Wade and James.
Wade opened the fourth with another trey to push the spread to 10, but George scored eight points in a 10-2 Indiana burst to pull the Pacers within 76-74.
Allen caught fire from there, nailing three 3-pointers in a 3:23-span to help the Heat create a 90-79 advantage. Allen's fourth triple of the frame made it 97-82 with 2:50 to play and Miami cruised the rest of the way.
"It's very early in the series," Indiana head coach Frank Vogel said. "They came back, they took care of their home court. We gotta try to come out and get Game 4."
Game 5 will be Wednesday night in Indianapolis.
05/26 15:59:12 ET