Heat takes home-court advantage with win


By Joseph Goodman

By Joseph Goodman

The Miami Herald

INDIANAPOLIS (MCT) — The Indiana Pacers put a lot of energy into securing home-court advantage for these Eastern Conference finals. The Miami Heat stripped it from their hands on Tuesday night.

A pair of key takeaways by the Heat in the final minutes of Game 2 of this best-of-7 series helped the Heat to a 87-83 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the series is now tied 1-1 with the Heat now only needing to win at home for the remainder of the series to advance to the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive season.

An emphatic reverse dunk by Dwyane Wade with 21.6 seconds left gave the Heat an 86-78 lead and fans clad in gold shirts began heading for the exits. Wade was the hero on this night, scoring 23 points and carrying the Heat for long stretches as LeBron James struggled to find his rhythm and Chris Bosh struggling to find shots.

The Heat returns to AmericanAirlines for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday. The Heat has knocked the Pacers out of the playoffs in the each of the last two seasons.

James finished with 22 points, going 9 of 18 from the field and 1 of 5 from three-point range. Bosh had nine points and was 4-of-9 shooting. The Heat received a boost from Norris Cole, who scored 11 points off the bench.

Recommitting to defense was the real story for the Heat in Game 2. The Pacers, which scored a postseason high 107 points in Game 1, shot just 40 percent from the field in Game 2. Indiana only committed 11 turnovers but the Pacers two giveaways in the fourth quarter were costly.

A pair of free throws by James after a hard foul by David West under the basket put the Heat ahead 76-75 with 4:19 left, and the Heat took advantage of a pair turnovers to take an 82-75 lead with 2:20 remaining. James made an 18-footer after a turnover by Hibbert and Wade converted a running jumper after forcing George into a giveaway.

Lance Stephenson led the Pacers with 25 points and George had 14 points after starting the game 1 of 11 from the field. David West had 10 points.

A three-pointer by George gave the Pacers a 73-69 lead with 7:19 left in the fourth quarter. After a shot-clock violation by the Heat, George and Wade collided in transition with 6:50 remaining. Both players were slow in getting up and Wade limped off the court favoring his leg. George was helped off the court after the back of his head slammed into Wade's knee.

Both players returned following a timeout and a three-pointer by James trimmed Indiana's lead to a point with 6:11 to play.

A three-pointer by George Hill with 8:44 left gave the Heat Pacers a 70-67 lead, but Wade answered with a fadeaway jumper. Wade was 10 of 16 from the field and had five rebounds and five assists. Hill had 13 points for Indiana.

Stephenson of the Pacers took over the game midway through the third quarter. He scored 10 points in the period and his three-pointer with 2:57 left in the quarter gave the Pacers a 60-54 lead and capped a 12-point swing. Stephenson had 23 points entering the fourth quarter.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Bosh and Cole cut the Pacers' lead to 63-62 with 1:08 left in the third quarter. The run helped trim a seven-point deficit in under a minute.

The Heat led 41-37 at halftime after holding the Pacers to 33.3 percent shooting. George went 1 of 11 from the field in the first half and West contributed four points. Stephenson carried the Pacers with 13 points entering the third quarter. Udonis Haslem started for Shane Battier and the move helped the Heat hold the Pacers to 21 points in the first quarter.

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