Inspired LeBron James Leads Miami To Victory

by
Reuters
A blistering third quarter from LeBron James helped the Miami Heat to a 90-79 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday that moved the defending NBA champions into a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

A blistering third quarter from LeBron James helped the Miami Heat to a 90-79 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday that moved the defending NBA champions into a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

A misfiring Miami were trailing 44-40 at halftime and were fortunate to be so close, but James turned on the style in the third quarter when the Heat dominated Indiana by a 30-13 margin.

The four-time MVP out-scored the Pacers by himself in the quarter, scoring 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and was superbly supported by Udonis Haslem, who scored 10 points in the quarter without missing a shot.

"That was LeBron showing his greatness and making it look easy," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters.

"His engine in that third quarter was incredible. He was tireless, making plays on both ends of the court, rebounding, covering so much ground defensively and then making virtually every play for us offensively, it really is remarkable."

Although Indiana started the fourth quarter with a 5-0 run, while James took a breather, the return of Miami's leader ensured the home team ran out comfortable winners.

James finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists while Paul George top scored for Indiana with 27 points and 11 rebounds.

Game Six will be in Indiana on Saturday where a victory will earn Miami a place in their third successive NBA finals, against the San Antonio Spurs.

 

HARSH WORDS

There is little talk of a 'Big Three' for Miami in these playoffs - with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh contributing just 17 points between them on Thursday and it was clear, at half time, that if the Heat were to triumph it needed James to lead them.

"I just kind of went back to my Cleveland days at that point," James told reporters, recalling his time with the Cavaliers where he was the team's only star.

"Just see if the guys would follow me and lead them the best way I could. I was just in attack mode in the third quarter," he said.

The lacklustre first half display from Miami resulted in some strong words in the locker-room during the interval with veteran Juwan Howard, a mostly non-playing but influential member of the squad, making his feelings heard.

"There were a lot of 'bleeps'," said Haslem adding that Howard "threw a few things as well".

James said he had joined in the strong words.

"I gave them a little piece of my mind and a piece of my voice and we were able to respond. We just had no sense of urgency in the first half. We were waiting for the game to change instead of going to get it," he added.

For Indiana, who have out-rebounded Miami in all five games, there was regret that they were not able to make more of their dominance in the first half before their struggles in the third.

"We blew some opportunities in the first half," coach Frank Vogel said.

"We had some breakdowns and obviously we missed some bunnies around the basket.

"We understand that we've got to play a near perfect game to beat this team. It is one of the best teams in the history of this game but we believe we can reach that level," he added.

"We feel like this is going to be a series for the ages. Every time one team has delivered a blow, the other has responded. We know we can beat them but we have to do better than tonight."