Heat rough up Pacers, take 3-2 lead
By Jeff Zillgitt USA TODAY May 23, 2012 8:24AM
Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) is fouled by Indiana Pacers' David West, right, during the second half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, in Miami on Tuesday, May 22, 2012. The Heat defeated the Pacers 115-83. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
MIAMI—Perhaps underplayed in the Miami Heat’s consecutive losses to the Indiana Pacers earlier in their Eastern Conference semifinal series was how long it would take the Heat to figure out how to play without injured forward Chris Bosh.
Miami has zeroed in on an impressive formula that has staggered the Pacers: suffocating defense, get the rebound, go. And go and go.
The Pacers have learned in back-to-back games, one easy LeBron James dunk after one sweet Dwyane Wade assist, how unstoppable that breathtaking formula is.
The result Tuesday was a 115-83 Miami victory, with the Heat shooting a postseason club-record 61(PERCENT), for a 3-2 series lead and a Game 6 closeout possibility Thursday in Indianapolis.
James had 30 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Wade, emerging from an early series funk, scored 28.
Miami outrebounded the Pacers 49-35 and outscored them 22-2 in fast-break points, made easier with the loss of Indiana forward Danny Granger (sprained ankle). When the Heat run as they did Tuesday, it is reminiscent of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers and Showtime.
“We kind of got away from ourselves in the second half,” Granger said.
All that angst surrounding the Heat is gone. The confidence that seemed non-existent in the two losses has been replaced with swagger.
“This was a real tough one,” said Pacers center Roy Hibbert, held to eight points.
And a rough one. Tyler Hansbrough clobbered Wade, drawing blood, for a Flagrant Foul 1. Then Udonis Haslem hammered Hansbrough for a Flagrant 1. In the last seconds, Miami’s Dexter Pittman got a Flagrant 1 for a forearm to the chin of Lance Stephenson, who made a choking sign toward James in Game 3.
The NBA will review all. “It was tough to watch. It was like a wild, wild west,” Granger said. “(Haslem’s play) was obviously retaliation for the Wade foul. I’m shocked if they don’t upgrade it.”