Basketball / Sports

Heat overcomes 15-point deficit to beat Pacers 99-87

MIAMI -- There was a horrific start at the beginning of the game and a nightmare scenario at the start of the final quarter.

None of it mattered.

The Heat dominated when it counted on Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, defeating the Indiana Pacers 99-87 to take a 2-1 lead in this best-of-7 series.

The Heat trailed by 15 points in the first half but rallied to tie the franchise's second-largest postseason comeback. There was a scary moment at the end of the third quarter when LeBron James limped into the Heat's locker room, but he returned to the court in the fourth quarter and helped lead a dominant final period.

Despite his injury scare, James led the Heat with 26 points, shooting 9 of 14 from the field to go along with five rebounds and seven assists. He was 7 of 9 from the free-throw line and 1 of 2 from three-point range.

A 19-footer by James gave the Heat a 94-82 lead with 3:16 to play. Chris Bosh then forced a turnover and Ray Allen delivered a three-pointer seconds. Allen was 4 of 4 from three-point range in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 points.

James played the final 8:37 of the game after injuring his leg at the end of the third quarter. He limped into the locker room with five seconds left in the third period and the Heat leading by four points. The Heat led by five points when he re-entered the game, but the Pacers cut that lead to 76-74 when Paul George made three free throws following a technical foul by Bosh.

Allen then delivered another three-pointer to cut short the Pacers' rally. Following a steal by Wade with five minutes to play, Allen connected again from three-point range to give the Heat an 87-79 lead.

Wade had 23 points and carried the Heat for long periods while the rest of the team struggled to find rhythm. Bosh and Norris Cole both finished with nine points. The Heat was 10 of 18 from three-point range.

A breakaway dunk by James gave the Heat its first lead of the game with 7:36 remaining in the third quarter. It capped an 8-0 run and set the stage for another frantic third quarter between two team that have provided the NBA with so much drama over the last three postseasons.

The lead changed eight times in less than six minutes in the third quarter, but the Heat led 71-64 entering the fourth quarter after a 10-3 run. Three free fouls by Allen after being fouled in the act of shooting a three-pointer started the run and Cole followed with a lightning-quick reverse layup.

George led the Pacers with 17 points and Roy Hibbert had 16. The Pacers committed 19 turnovers, which the Heat converted into 26 points.

It was a brutal start for the Heat in the first quarter and the team never really found a rhythm offensively in the first half. Luckily for the Heat, the Pacers weren't much better and only led 42-38 at halftime. The two teams combined for 24 turnovers in the first half.

The Pacers led 19-5 to begin the game and at one point the Heat had two field goals to seven turnovers. Hibbert dominated inside early and led the game with 10 points entering the second quarter. Meanwhile, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra went to his bench early, which helped stop the hemorrhaging.

The Pacers' lead maxed out at 15 points in the first half before the Heat started playing defense. Then it was the Pacers' turn to look foolish. Indiana attempted four shots in the final six minutes of the first half.

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