The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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May 25, 2013

Hibbert, Pacers even series with Heat

MIAMI — David West’s right hand helped the Indiana Pacers grab home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference finals.

Roy Hibbert scored 29 points, West knocked away two passes by LeBron James for huge turnovers in the final minute, and the Pacers evened the East title series with a 97-93 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the series on Friday night.

Paul George scored 22 points, George Hill added 18 and West finished with 13 for the Pacers, who handed the Heat just their fourth loss in their last 50 games.

The series resumes with Game 3 on Sunday night in Indianapolis.

James scored 36 points for the Heat, who got 17 points from Chris Bosh and 14 from Dwyane Wade. The Heat led 88-84 in the fourth quarter, then were outscored 13-5 the rest of the way.

And West was the biggest reason.

With Indiana up 95-93, West intercepted a pass that James was throwing to Ray Allen with 43 seconds left, but the Pacers didn’t even get a shot off on the ensuing possession. In fact, Indiana may have gotten a bit lucky that the shot clock expired with the ball rolling around — if Wade had collected the ball in time, he had Mario Chalmers all alone at the other end in position to almost certainly tie the game.

On the next Miami possession, James drove to the right block, spun and tried passing out toward the perimeter.

He released the ball, and West got his right hand on it to knock it off-course. Immediately afterward, West took that same hand and extended it skyward in celebration.

The Pacers — just as they did in the second-round series last year — knew they were winning Game 2 in Miami. Hill made two free throws with 8.3 seconds left to clinch it, and just like that, Miami’s home-court advantage was gone.

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