The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

May 25, 2013

Hibbert, Pacers even series with Heat

(Continued)

Lance Stephenson scored 10 for the Pacers.

The Heat trailed for virtually all of the game’s first 30 minutes, then tied the game three times in the third quarter — but Indiana always had a response. When the game was tied at 60, the Pacers scored seven of the next 10 points. Tied at 67, George quickly had a layup to put the Pacers back on top. Tied at 69, George struck again, this time with a jumper.

With 5.1 seconds left in the third, George drove the lane and finished a highlight-reel dunk over Miami’s Chris Andersen while getting fouled, the free throw putting the Pacers up by five. James connected on a long 3-pointer to close the quarter, then he and George exchanged a few words afterward and slapped each other’s hand as if to say, “here we go.”

Sure enough, the show was just getting started.

Hibbert was creating one problem after another for Miami, so James took it upon himself to find a solution in the fourth. And with about 8 minutes left, he swatted a putback attempt away from the 7-foot-2 Indiana center, starting a play that ended with Chalmers scoring at the other end to give Miami an 85-84 lead.

On the next possession, James tied up a rebound with Hibbert, then won the ensuing jump ball. Not long afterward, Bosh made a 3-pointer and Miami’s lead was up to 88-84 — its biggest of the night.

Indiana scored the next five points to reclaim the lead. James’ three-point play with 3:32 left put the Heat on top 91-89, and Hibbert answered that with a jump hook over the reigning MVP to tie the game for the 10th time.

If there was any remaining lament from losing Game 1 on the final play of overtime, the Pacers made sure it didn’t show. They trailed for all of 15 seconds in the first half, and after neither team held a lead of more than seven in the series opener, Indiana found itself leading by 10 late in the first quarter and by 13 with a minute to go before intermission.

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