NBA Playoffs: Heat dominate Pacers, take 3-1 lead in East finals
MIAMI — Forwards LeBron James and Chris Bosh had big games to help the Heat beat the Indiana Pacers 102-90 Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, giving Miami a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
James, who scored a game-high 32 points, produced at least 20 points for the 19th consecutive game, including all 13 in the playoffs. He added 10 rebounds and a game-high five assists.
Bosh, who managed just nine points in each of the previous three games, broke out by scoring 25 points.
Miami, which never trailed in the game, is 7-0 at home in this year’s playoffs, 11-2 overall.
The series shifts Wednesday to Indianapolis, where the Heat will try to clinch the series and advance to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year.Miami, which led by five points at halftime, outscored the Pacers 31-20 in the third quarter to pull away. James had 14 points in the third quarter.Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who scored more than 20 points in each of the previous four playoff games, was held to 15 points.The Pacers were led by forwards Paul George (23 points) and David West (20 points and a game-high 12 rebounds). However, Indiana center Roy Hibbert finished scoreless in 22 minutes.Pacers guard Lance Stephenson was held to nine points. Stephenson taunted James through the media leading up to the game, saying the Heat star showed a “sign of weakness” by engaging in trash-talking earlier in the series.After trailing by at least eight points in the first quarters of each of the first three games of this series, Miami finally reversed the trend.Miami won the quarter 27-19, and the key was Bosh, who had 10 points, all of them within the first six minutes. Bosh went 4-for-4 from the floor during that span, including a pair of 3-pointers.The 10 points in the first quarter were more than the nine points Bosh had scored in each of the past three games, when he shot a combined 2-for-12 on 3-pointers.Besides Bosh’s production, the Heat, which had no turnovers in the quarter, got eight points from James.But despite Miami’s strong start, Indiana rallied to cut its halftime deficit to 49-45. Considering the Pacers never led in the first half and trailed by as many as 11, it was a reasonable margin for Indiana.West had 12 points at the half, and George had 11.NOTES: Despite winning Game 3, the Heat made a lineup change on Monday, starting F Rashard Lewis instead of F Udonis Haslem. It was just Lewis’ seventh start of the season and his first of the playoffs. He finished scoreless in 26 minutes. ... Lewis earned the start by playing well in Game 3. Even though he went scoreless in that game, too, he played tough defense on Pacers F David West, and the Heat was plus-21 points in Lewis’ 17 minutes on the court. ... Heat C Chris Andersen sat out Monday’s game due to a left thigh contusion, among other ailments. “He’s a human bruise right now,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. ... Heat F Michael Beasley, a healthy scratch in Game 3, was activated Monday but did not play. ... Even if there are mismatches defensively, Pacers coach Frank Vogel said before Monday’s game that he would keep going with his “big” lineup, which includes C Roy Hibbert and West. “We’ve got to punish them on (offense) better than we have,” Vogel said.