HEAT 102, PACERS 90
By TIM REYNOLDS
MIAMI — LeBron James had 32 points and 10 rebounds, Chris Bosh added 25 points and the Miami Heat moved one win away from a return trip to the NBA Finals with a 102-90 win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.
Dwyane Wade scored 15 points for the Heat, who have won three of the first four games in the Eastern Conference finals. They can win the East for a fourth straight season with a win at Indiana on Wednesday night.
Miami led wire-to-wire, opening up as much as a 23-point lead in the final quarter.
Paul George scored 23 points and David West added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, who got 15 points from George Hill. But Lance Stephenson was held to nine and Roy Hibbert was scoreless in 22 minutes for Indiana.
The Pacers won two elimination games in the first round against Atlanta, and need to win three more if their yearlong plan of topping Miami as kings of the East is going to become reality.
The odds are obviously stacked against them. When holding a 3-1 lead, Miami is 8-0 in Game 5s over the past four postseasons.
The fight isn’t over. But it was awfully one-sided for long stretches of Game 4.
Miami outscored Indiana 31-20 in the third quarter and increased the lead to 23 in the fourth before the Pacers used a 15-3 run to make things rather interesting. Stephenson had a layup with 3:20 left that would have gotten Indiana within nine – but it was waved off after he was called for fouling Wade on his way to the basket.
Stephenson scored with 1:31 left to make it 99-90, but James snuffed out any comeback hopes right there. His three-point play nine seconds later pushed the lead back to 12, and the Heat were moments away from a 3-1 lead.
Miami was without Chris Andersen, inactive because of a bruised left thigh. The Heat also tweaked their starting lineup, with Rashard Lewis in and Udonis Haslem out.
Bosh scored the game’s first eight points, making a pair of 3-pointers and ending a series-long funk. He had scored exactly nine points in each of the first three games of these East finals and was held under 10 points in each of his last seven playoff games against Indiana.
But he came out flying, and probably not coincidentally, the Heat finally had a good start.
They won the first quarter for the first time in the series, going up 27-19 and helped in part by a late 3-pointer from Shane Battier – with replays showing Vogel moved down the sideline toward the Heat forward as he shot from near the Indiana bench.
Nothing was to Indiana’s liking. Hibbert and Stephenson combined for zero points and six fouls in the half. The Heat didn’t have a turnover until the second quarter. Miami shot 10 more free throws in the half. Bosh and James combined for 32 points.
And despite it all, the Pacers were down only 49-44 at halftime.
After getting hand-checked eight times by Hill on a play late in the half, James went down the lane for a reverse dunk while getting fouled to put Miami up by 10.
But the Pacers answered, a 3-pointer by George just before the break getting them within five and sealing a half that could have been much worse.
If there was any doubt, Miami erased it quickly after halftime. James scored five points in a 7-0 spurt to open the second half, and the Heat were on their way.