INDIANAPOLIS — Roy Hibbert had 24 points and 11 rebounds, Paul George finished with 28 points, and the Indiana Pacers forced a deciding game in the Eastern Conference finals with a 91-77 victory over the Miami Heat on Saturday night.
LeBron James scored 29 points for the defending NBA champions, who will host Game 7 on Monday. Dwyane Wade was limited to just 10 points as he and Chris Bosh struggled again.
The Pacers opened the third quarter on a 14-2 run as the Heat went 1 of 11 from the field. Indiana led by 17 late in the third.
Miami got within four before the Pacers pulled away again.
It was everything one would expect from an elimination game. The teams traded jabs, sometimes literally, counterpunched effectively and players ignored the bumps and bruises of yet another physical game in a tough, compelling series.
Both teams attacked the basket with sometimes problematic results. Indiana missed about five dunk attempts in the first half and a series of short jumpers, too, costing them precious points. The Heat struggled, too, starting the game just 3 of 22 from inside the 3-point line. Miami was just 16 of 54 from inside the arc for the game.
Indiana’s loud fans chanted “Heat Are Floppers!” sporadically throughout the second half, urging the Pacers to play harder, to defend better and to make another trip home. The only way they can do that is if they reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2000.
The stakes were so high that when James was called for an offensive foul midway through the fourth quarter, he protested by running from one end of the court to the other, drawing a technical foul. The Miami bench also drew a technical on the play.
George Hill answered by making free throws and Hibbert followed that with a layup to turn away Miami’s furious fourth-quarter comeback attempt.
It was a complete reversal from Thursday.
Miami took control then by outscoring the Pacers 30-13 in the third. This time, against one of the league’s top offensive teams, the Pacers gave up only six points in the first eight minutes and turned a 40-39 halftime deficit into a 66-49 lead with 1:15 left in the quarter.
Two fouls and a turnover in the final minute allowed Miami to close to 68-55.
The Heat rallied again early in the fourth, taking advantage of Indiana’s 1 for 6 start from the field. When Mike Miller hit back-to-back 3s, the Pacers’ lead was down to 70-64 and when James scored on a layup with 5:54 to play, the Heat were within 72-68.
But the run ended abruptly when George hit a 3, Miami’s Joel Anthony was called for a loose ball foul on the offensive end and David West grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a dunk to extend the lead to 77-68. Then came the technical flurry that finished it off.
West scored 11 points and had 14 rebounds despite playing with an upper respiratory infection that prompted coach Frank Vogel to send him home early from the Pacers’ morning shootaround.
Miami played without Chris “Birdman” Andersen, who was suspended for one game by the league after getting into a skirmish with Tyler Hansbrough during the first half of Game 5. He was called for a flagrant 1, but after a review, the league upgraded the foul to a flagrant 2.