Basketball / Sports

Foul trouble dooms LeBron James in Heat's Game 5 loss to Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's headed back to Miami.

A wild Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals ended with the Pacers extending the series with a 93-90 victory on Wednesday night at Bankers' Life Fieldhouse. The Heat still leads the series 3-2 and can advance to the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year with a victory on Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat trailed by four points with 46 seconds to play but had a chance at the win in the final seconds. Chris Bosh's corner three-pointer was off the mark, however, and Pacers center Roy Hibbert came away with the series-extending defensive rebound.

That the Heat actually had a chance to win the game in the end was almost dumbfounding. LeBron James played just 24 minutes because of foul trouble and finished with only seven points. Still, the Heat nearly ended this best-of-7 series in five games.

Bosh banked in a three-pointer with 1:16 to play to cut the Pacers' lead to 88-87, and the arena let out a big sound of desperation. The angst was answered by Paul George with 46 seconds left when he made a second-chance three-pointer in front of the Heat's bench. The shot was made possible by an offensive rebound by Hibbert while James was caught watching the play from just outside the paint.

James redeemed himself, however, when he delivered one of his classic chase-down blocks to save the game on a breakaway layup attempt by Pacers guard George Hill. Rashard Lewis delivered a three-pointer with 16 seconds to play to cut Indiana's lead to 91-90.

Following a timeout by the Pacers, Shane Battier knocked away a side-of-bounds pass intended for George, and the officials reviewed the play at length to determine possession. The Pacers were awarded the ball, and on the next side-of-bounds play Battier was whistled for a block before the play. George missed his one free-throw attempt, but David West was fouled on the Pacers' third side-of-bounds play of the possession.

West made the front end of his foul shots, which gave the Heat a chance to take the lead. With the Heat trialing 92-90 with 12 seconds left, James drove to the basket, but kicked out a pass to Bosh. Bosh missed.

George led the Pacers with 37 points after his team only scored 33 points in the entire first half.

A three-pointer by James tied the game at 81-81 with 3:51 to play, but West answered with a basket inside. George then put the Pacers ahead by four points, but Lewis answered with a three-pointer. Lewis had 18 points was 6 of 9 from three-point range.

Foul trouble reduced James the world's greatest 6-8, 280-pound cheerleader for most of the game. The Heat weathered James' absence in the second half, but then floundered in the third quarter without their versatile superstar.

In a bizarre 12 minutes, the Heat outscored the Pacers 26-11 in the second quarter despite James only playing 70 seconds of the period. But James picked up his fourth foul 21 seconds into the third quarter and then went back to the bench after his fifth foul. He played just 3:26 in the third quarter.

James entered the game with 10:30 left in the game and the Heat trailing 69-62. The Pacers' lead ballooned to 11 points before the Heat made its run. A corner three-pointer by George with 9:15 to play gave the Pacers a 75-66 lead.

George stole a pass moments later and raced the length of a floor for a breakaway dunk. It was James who committed the turnover and it was James who watched as George coasted in for the easy field goal. James is usually a threat to block breakaway attempts, but with five fouls he couldn't chance it.

With James lacking freedom defensively and struggling offensively, the Heat needed a spark desperately and found it in the form of Dwyane Wade.

Bosh caught an airball by James and scored a put-back to cut the Pacers' lead to 77-68 and, following a missed three-pointer by Lance Stephenson, Wade drilled a three-pointer to cut the Pacers' lead to 77-71. Wade then went inside for a driving layup and followed with another three-pointer to pull the Heat within one of the Pacers, 79-78, with 4:59 to play.

Wade finished with 18 points and Ray Allen had 15 points off the bench. George of the Pacers had 21 points in the fourth quarter, which set an all-time record for points in a quarter against the Heat in a postseason game.

(c)2014 The Miami Herald

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