LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Miami’s defense combined in the fourth quarter to help the Heat avoid unfamiliar, unwelcome territory
James and Wade combined for 22 of Miami’s 25 fourth-quarter points and the Heat went on a 10-0 run late to defeat the Indiana Pacers 87-83 in Eastern Conference finals Game 2 on Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
It was the fifth time since James, Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces that the Heat won Game 2 after losing a playoff series opener.
Wade finished with 23 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. James had 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
"Today was just about how badly we want it," Wade said. "It wasn’t about Xs and Os. It just was about how badly we wanted to win this game, and we proved it, we showed it.
"It wasn’t a perfect game by no stretch of the imagination but we kept fighting, we kept digging down deep and eventually the game turned to our favor."
It was Miami’s second win in its last nine games overall at Indiana. And after all the talk during the regular season about home-court advantage, the Heat now will host three of the final five games in the knotted series.
Games 3 (Saturday night) and 4 (Monday night) will be at Miami.
"Even though we won, we’re going to break down the film as if we lost and see ways we can get better," James said.
Norris Cole (11 points, two of two 3s) and Chris Andersen (12 rebounds) both contributed mightily off the bench. Cole played 27 minutes and did a great job defending Lance Stephenson in the second half.
"(Cole) was playing well enough where we just rolled with it," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He was playing well enough where we just kept him in there and let it ride in the fourth quarter and let him play longer than his normal rotation."
The Heat held the Pacers to 40-percent shooting (32 of 80).
"We flew around covering for one another, even when we made mistakes we still covered for one another," James said. "We allowed them in Game 1 to dictate what our defense did, and that’s not us."
Stephenson scored 10 of his game-high 25 points in the third quarter to help the Pacers build a 63-62 edge.
The Heat stepped up their defense during the final 16 minutes of the first half to go ahead 41-37 at intermission. Miami held Indiana to 33.3 percent shooting (14 of 42).
Wade and Stephenson each had 13 points in the first half.
THE TURNING POINT
The Heat scored 10 straight points to turn a three-point deficit with 5:33 left into an 82-75 advantage with 2:19 to go.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
James, who was at his most assertive during the fourth quarter. He scored six points during the 10-0 run.
STAT OF THE GAME
Miami shot 50.7 percent (34 of 67) overall and 40 percent (eight of 20) from 3-point range.
The Heat and Pacers will play Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals at AmericanAirlines Arana at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night.