The Indiana Pacers knew they needed a victory as they hosted the Miami Heat at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Game 5, and they got it thanks to some hot shooting from Paul George.
George scored 37 with six rebounds as the home side withstood a fourth quarter fightback from the Heat to take the series to Game 6 with a close run 93-90 win on Wednesday night.
Indiana's win was even more unlikely following the first half in which they scored only 33, including just 11 in the second quarter, which left Miami up by nine at half time, despite LeBron James' absence.
James was limited to just over 24 minutes on the court because of foul trouble and he hit a career-low seven points with two rebounds and four assists. James' low comes after he broke Michael Jordan's record of 74 playoff games with at least 25 points, five rebounds and assists in Game 4.
LeBron was called for five fouls in the first three quarters of the game leading to the four-time MVP spending a lot of time off the court, although the Pacers, fuelled by George, did not take advantage as much as they should have to get ahead.
Indiana coach Frank Vogel was not happy that his side did not grab the momentum during LeBron's time off court:
“LeBron was on the bench for a stretch,... We didn’t take advantage of it.” he told NBA.com.
All-Star George hit 21 of his 37 in a tense final quarter, which saw the visitors get back to within a point on two occasions and level with 3:49 on the clock. George's efforts were actually the most points scored against the Heat in any playoff quarter.
A 3-pointer from George had the home side ahead by four with 46 seconds to play, only for Rashard Lewis to pull the Heat back to 90-91 with 16 seconds left. The Pacers added one before the Heat had the chance to win it. A LeBron James surge allowed him to find Chris Bosh on the 3-point line with 7.5 seconds remaining.
Bosh's attempt hit the rim though and the home side grabbed the rebound.
Chris Bosh ended on 20, with Dwayne Wade and Rashard Lewis adding 18 for the Heat who were looking to clinch their place in a fourth straight NBA Finals.
It was not to be however and they now will need to refocus their efforts on Friday night's match up, where they can win the Eastern conference title in front of their own fans at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
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