Heat forward LeBron James (6) dunks in front of the Pacers' George Hill (3), Roy Hibbert (55), and Paul George (24) during the second half of Game 4 of their NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series.
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INDIANAPOLIS — Miami’s season, the one that’s supposed to end in an NBA championship and vindication, was slipping away.
LeBron James brought it back.
And this time, Dwyane Wade helped him.
James scored 40 points, Wade added 30 22 in the second half and Miami’s dynamic duo took over after halftime to get the Heat even in the series with a 101-93 win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday.
With Chris Bosh injured and back in Florida, the James-Wade tandem saved the Heat, who will host Game 5 on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“Just survival,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This is what the playoffs are about.”
James was at his MVP best, adding 18 rebounds and nine assists and refusing to let Miami’s season slip away.
“It’s still going to be a dogfight,” James said. “It’s a three-game series now.”
Wade rebounded from the worst playoff game of his career, shaking off a 1 of 8 shooting start and adding nine rebounds and six assists.
Danny Granger scored 20 to lead the Pacers, who had the Heat down but couldn’t put the defending conference champions away.
Down by 10 points in the third quarter, the Heat were in danger of having their championship dreams obliterated by an Indiana team outworking them at both ends and backed by a towel-waving fans.
James would have none of it.
Wade, who scored five points in Game 3 and yelled at coach Erik Spoelstra on the sideline during a third-quarter timeout in Miami’s 19-point loss, came alive in the third when he made all six shots and scored 14 points.
“I’ve been doubted before. I’ll be doubted again,” Wade said.
James added 14 as well in the period as the pair landed a 1-2 punch on the Pacers’ chin.
“We had a terrible performance in Game 3,” James said. “We wanted to redeem ourselves.”
Granger’s 3-pointer had given Indiana a 61-51 and the Pacers, outhustling the Heat to loose balls, appeared poised to take a commanding lead in the series.
But that’s when James and Wade put on a jaw-dropping spectacle, combining for all but two points in a 25-5 run that put Miami up 76-66.
During one sequence, Wade lost his balance and fell and was lucky to push the ball toward James near the top of the key. As Wade scrambled to his feet, James alertly passed him the ball and he calmly knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Heat a 64-63 lead. The pair made easy shots, tough ones and did everything in their power to steer Miami away from a 3-1 hole.
Only eight teams in league history have overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. That’s what the Heat were staring at with a loss in Game 4.
The Heat took a 76-70 lead into the fourth, and every time Indiana got close, either Wade or James responded.
Miami also got a huge lift down the stretch from Udonis Haslem, who hasn’t been a factor in the series but made four big jumpers in the final six minutes despite playing with a large bandage over his right eye after being elbowed by Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough.
Granger’s 3-pointer got the Pacers within 96-91 with 1:33 left, but Haslem hit another short shot and James closed the Pacers out with three free throws in the last 16 seconds.
Leandro Barbosa dropped a layup just before the horn to give the Pacers a 54-46 lead at halftime, closing a second quarter that included another altercation involving Granger.
Wade was fouled hard on a drive with 12.6 seconds left by Hibbert. After the whistle, Miami’s frustrated star slapped off the Indiana center’s arm after the two got tangled. Granger didn’t like that and he confronted Wade nose-to-nose in the foul lane.
Wade turned to one official and pleaded to “get him out of my face.”
Granger was slapped with a technical foul for the second straight game, and as Wade lined up to shoot his free throw, Indiana’s forward kept jawing at him.
“I’m right here,” Granger said, standing near mid-court.
Wade got the message, and he and James returned one of their own in the third.
His team’s dynamic disrupted without Bosh, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra changed his starting lineup for the fourth time in four games, putting Ronny Turiaf at center and starting Shane Battier up front with James for the second straight game. The switch did nothing to stop the Pacers from getting off to another strong start.
Indiana was up 9-0 in a blink and led 19-11 after Granger dropped a 3-pointer.
James, though, got things going for the Heat and had them within 25-18 after one, a deficit that could have been much worse if not for the Pacers missing several wide-open 3-pointers.
SPURS RALLY TO BEAT CLIPPERS
LOS ANGELES — Tim Duncan scored 21 points, Tony Parker added 17 and the San Antonio Spurs rallied in the final minutes to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 102-99 on Sunday night, closing out the series 4-0 and advancing to the Western Conference finals.
The Spurs extended their winning streak to 18 games and their playoff record to 8-0, tying the third-best postseason streak in franchise history.
Danny Green and Gary Neal added 14 points each, and Manu Ginobili and Thiago Splitter had 11 each for the Spurs.
San Antonio could find out as soon as Monday night who it will play next. Oklahoma City leads the Lakers 3-1 in their series, with Game 5 on Monday.
Chris Paul had 23 points and 11 assists, Blake Griffin added 21 points, and Eric Bledsoe had 17 for the Clippers, who blew a six-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Both nursing injuries, Griffin and Paul combined to score 21 of the Clippers’ 28 points in the third quarter when they took their first lead of the game. In the fourth, Bledsoe came up big, scoring 11 in a row, to extend the lead to 90-85 with 5:38 remaining.
After Reggie Evans missed two free throws, Green hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 92.
Duncan’s hook put the Spurs in front 96-94 before Paul tossed up a one-handed shot that rose to the top of the backboard before dropping straight in as he crashed into a baseline photographer. He made the free throw to put the Clippers ahead by one.
Parker scored consecutive baskets and the Spurs regained the lead, 100-97, with 1:47 left.
Paul’s two free throws drew the Clippers within one. After a timeout, Paul drove the basket and lost the ball. He fouled Green, who made the first and missed the second to keep the Spurs ahead 101-99.
Paul then missed another shot, and Mo Williams fouled Parker, who missed the first and made the second with a second left.
DeAndre Jordan added 10 points. Paul had best performance of the series after sub-par efforts in the first two games. He’d been playing with a strained right hip, while Griffin has a sprained right knee, an injured left hip and got stitches for a cut lip in the first half.
Neither team led by more than five points in the third period. Duncan had 10 points for the Spurs. Bledsoe’s putback slam dunk gave the Clippers 75-74 lead going into the fourth.
The Spurs stretched their lead to 12 points with Duncan sitting out the opening 7 minutes of the second quarter.
The Clippers closed on a 14-6 run to trail 51-47 at halftime. Paul got it started with a 19-foot jumper and ended it with a 3-pointer. Early in the spurt, Griffin ran into Ginobili’s shoulder, fell and one of his top teeth went through his lip. He left the court with 2:20 remaining to get two stitches on the inside and outside of his lip.
Los Angeles began the game on a 9-4 run before San Antonio scored 14 unanswered points, reminiscent of its 24-0 third-quarter spurt Saturday that led to the Spurs’ eventual 10-point victory in Game 3.
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