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NBA Playoffs: James, Wade carry Heat, even up series with Pacers

May 20, 2012, 7:00 PM EDT

Heat Pacers Game 4

The Heat were able to get a 101-93 win over the Pacers to even up the series at 2 on Sunday, but it certainly didn’t come easy for them.

The Miami Heat absolutely needed a win in Indiana on Sunday afternoon, and for the first part of the game, it didn’t look like the Pacers were going to give it to them. Indiana came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, and started the game off on a 9-0 run.

Consequently, the Heat were forced to play catch-up for the entirety of the first half, and if Indiana had made some wide-open looks in transition or Shane Battier or Mario Chalmers had missed some early threes, Indiana could easily have broken the game wide open early. LeBron James came to play, but just about no other Heat player showed up in the first half — Dwyane Wade in particular looked like a zombie wearing a #3 jersey, as he made just 1 of his first 8 field goal attempts and got burned on defense numerous times.

Then, with 1:46 remaining in the first half, Wade was forced into a contested, off-the-dribble, end-of-shot clock three by the 6-8 Paul George — and he made it. After that, everything changed. The Pacers went into halftime with an 8-point lead thanks to a beautiful buzzer-beating scoop shot by Leandro Barbosa, but James and Wade were starting to get it going.

The second half was, quite simply, the James and Wade show. James played like a 3-time MVP, attacking the Pacers in the post, picking apart their defense with beautiful passes that led to dunks or layups, and driving right to the rack time after time for finish after finish. Oh, and he grabbed 18 rebounds, with 6 of those rebounds coming on the offensive glass. LeBron finished with 40 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists, which hasn’t been done in the playoffs in the last 25 years, and had 2 steals and 2 blocks to boot.

I know we’re supposed to put an asterisk on everything LeBron does until he wins a ring, but this was an absolutely unreal all-around performance from LeBron in what was essentially a must-win game for the Heat, and it should be appreciated.

That said, the Heat would be in a 3-1 hole right now if Dwyane Wade hadn’t snapped out of his funk with a vengeance. Wade hit 11 straight shots at one point, both from the inside and the outside, and James and Wade played off of each other beautifully for the entire second half. They weren’t just both playing great — they were elevating each other’s level of play, and that’s when the Heat get almost impossible to beat.

On the Pacers’ side of things, a few guys had nice games, but foul trouble kept Roy Hibbert and David West from playing major minutes, which made a huge difference in the game, as Hibbert’s ability to defend the rim and crash the boards and West’s ability to score down low gives Miami fits. With Hibbert and West on the bench for long stretches, the Pacers were forced to rely on a lot of long jumpers, and it wasn’t all that effective for them.

Even with James and Wade at the absolute top of their games, this wasn’t a blowout win for Miami, and that should be a cause for concern for the team that came into the playoffs as the Vegas favorites to win the championship. The Heat may have lost Game 4 if Udonis Haslem didn’t make four mid-range jumpers in the final six minutes of the game, which was notable since Haslem has struggled mightily from mid-range all season long.

Of course, the bigger concern is this: Can the Heat win this series, let alone a championship, if James and Wade have to do this much just to get Miami a win? If the Heat can make it into the Conference Finals, they will probably get Bosh back, which will help a lot, but this team is still wafer-thin offensively right now, and they need to get back to the principles of “pace and space” that made them so tough offensively early in the year, especially the latter. Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, and James Jones need to start hitting their threes, Chalmers, Cole, and Miller need to provide some playmaking, and Haslem, Anthony, and Turiaf have to force defenses to at least guard them.

Still, this was a good win for the Heat, and the road to the Conference Finals now goes through the American Airlines Arena again. The Heat should take a deep breath, and then realize they have to get right back to work if they don’t want to face an elimination game in Game 6.

  1. 1972wasalongtimeago - May 20, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    6

    And a big Eff You to all you A-Holes too. Freaking awesome!

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 20, 2012 at 7:11 PM

      I admit my last post was not classy. If you’re one of the A-Holes I was addressing; just read Lance Stephenson’s apology, and substitute my name and your name where appropriate. Nothing but respect for all of you.

    • edweird0 - May 20, 2012 at 7:12 PM

      OMG The Heat Won?!?!?! NO EFFFFING WAAAAY! What happened to the Heat being outta this series?!?! I thought they were done for… Guess not hahahaha.

      • udogg - May 20, 2012 at 9:19 PM

        And I thought the heat were supposed to sweep. fantasies all around, I guess.

  2. koloofai - May 20, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    Granger you fake tough guy, take that.. Wade and Lebron lit up the Field house tonight.

    • comeonnowguys - May 21, 2012 at 9:02 AM

      He’s the toughest guy in Indianapolis. Just like I was the tallest guy at midget school.

    • gostlcards5 - May 21, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      I don’t know if he’s “fake” tough or not, but I thought he was an idiot for getting in Wade’s face. I think that had as much to do with Wade’s wake-up call and performance as anything. You’re not in the play…stay out of the play!

  3. david8726 - May 20, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    That was a super human effort by LeBron. 40-18-9? Are you kidding me? ESPN said it’s been 25 years since a player put up those kind of numbers. He was incredible.

    If the Heat survive this series, hopefully LeBron won’t have expended so much energy carrying them that he’s too tired to do it again in another series. Bosh can’t get back soon enough to take some of the pressure off him and Wade.

    Major credit to Wade for bouncing back and to Haslem for giving them a nice lift in the 4th quarter.

    • edweird0 - May 20, 2012 at 7:26 PM

      Yeah forreals, he shoulda just got the triple double and been done with it.

    • thebigkahuna23 - May 21, 2012 at 2:05 AM

      David Robinson played more recently than 25 years ago and did the same with more point and two-3 fewer assists. It was a fantastic game for LeBron, credit where credit is due, but it’s not the best playoff performance in the past 25 years….Not even close. This is still the second round.

      • southbeachtalent - May 21, 2012 at 9:09 AM

        “but it’s not the best playoff performance in the past 25 years….Not even close”

        Not even close huh?

        FAIL

      • therealroman - May 21, 2012 at 11:43 AM

        Why does it gotta be like that? why can’t people just appreciate this incredible athlete and just enjoy his frickin game…i mean, which player single-handedly gave his team a chance in a must-win last night? how much help did robinson get in those games? who helped lebron last night (except wade’s 2nd half efforts)? the dude’s just unreal…how strong he is, almost unstoppable if he’s aggressive to the rim, but still unpredictable because he can find everyone at every position all times on the court? seriously, what does this man gotta do?

      • therealroman - May 21, 2012 at 11:55 AM

        Also, just saw the box score and he played 44 Minutes!! With his level of intensity (chase down blocks, guarding everyone, having the ball in his hands all the time on offfense) it’s another testiment to his physical abilities and his professionalism as far as preperation for the game goes

  4. buffalowned - May 20, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    please haters tell me more about how lebron isn’t the best player in the nba

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 20, 2012 at 7:48 PM

      He doesn’t do this enough. He should. I respect the flop-free game he played today. Just BALLED OUT. Kobe doesn’t flop and brings it every night, even if he’s off shooting percentage-wise. That’s how.

      When and if he does this routinely — although it doesn’t have to be 40, 18 and 9 every time — then you can definitively say so. As for now, people were too quick to anoint him as such so that they could dismiss Kobe as such, instead of being objective about it.

      • caseybojangles - May 21, 2012 at 3:13 AM

        kobe???? are you serious? this guy costs the lakers both of the last two games with his brick laying. how can you heave up nearly 30 a game with 2/3rds being complete bricks and whine about not getting a call.

        kobe doesn’t flop because he doesn’t D up consistently. LBJ for all the immense pressure on him, plays flat out every game ON BOTH ENDS and his numbers bear that out. there isn’t a more complete player playing right now. doesn’t have to be 40/18/9 every time? how about 28/8/6 and 2 steals/1 block and D-ing up every game? stop it with kobe.

    • slowclyde86 - May 20, 2012 at 7:59 PM

      I don’t think anyone has really not agreed that he is the best the league. The criticism has been of his shrinking in big moments, fairly or not. The playoffs are still young and this series is far from over. He was, indeed, brilliant today. Last game, not so much.

      By the way, please know when you use the term “haters”, you sound incredibly stupid. Mind-numbingly stupid. Criticism does not equal hating.

      • southbeachtalent - May 21, 2012 at 9:32 AM

        Hating is when statistical facts are ignored. When an argument has no real substance just the same blow hards talking about a man’s mother and his tipping habits. Not acknowledging that LeBron is indeed the league’s MVP is illogical and non-sensical. Especially if you look at his, you know, STATS. That is hating. Happened to Jordan, Johnson and still happening to Kobe.

        Before LeBron played in Miami I acknowledged he was the best in the league. And now that he plays here and I watch him on a nightly basis my beliefs are confirmed. Some of these hurt Cleveland fans changed their minds overnight (along with “professional” sports writers and ex-NBA players) and declared LeBron a coward. He gave up money and sacrificed his name and brand to come to Miami to win as a team. Remember the old saying “No I in Team? Well I guess that doesn’t apply for LeBron.

      • slowclyde86 - May 21, 2012 at 11:55 AM

        You tell ‘em soutbeachtalent! Keep hating on those hateful hating haters. That’s right, hating haters!

        By the way, reading is a skill. Very, very few doubt LBJ’s ability and status as the greatest player on the planet (as I wrote). They question his heart at crunch time in clutch situations. Those are different things. Anyone who watched the finals last year or the Boston series the year before could see it—irrespective of his stats. May not be fair, but it was apparent. Live in denial if you want.

        We’ll see this year. It should be fun to watch.

    • savvybynature - May 20, 2012 at 8:14 PM

      Brian Scalabrine. ‘Nough said.

    • gmsingh - May 21, 2012 at 8:13 AM

      Unfortunately, it is very possible to be the best in the NBA and never win a championship.

    • comeonnowguys - May 21, 2012 at 9:09 AM

      He’s by far the most talented.

      However, the wiring in his head that takes that ridiculous talent and channels it into being the inarguable transcendent player of this generation is a bit frayed.

      Everybody misses fourth-quarter free throws now and then, but if he’s the best player in the league, he’d never just stand in a corner when the play for game winning shot is being executed. But it happens more often than it should.

      I’m not sure it’s “choking,” but it surely isn’t rising up to meet the moment. And now it’s happened enough where he’s going to have to win at least half of those trophies he predicted to quiet the haters.

      Oh wait, I said something critical of Lebron, that makes me a hater. Dammit.

      • gostlcards5 - May 21, 2012 at 2:14 PM

        I agree, LBJ is by far the most talented player in the league. I’m not a hater or a fan of LeBron’s, but frankly, the Heat would not have even been in Game 2 if he hadn’t carried them the entire game. The free throws he missed were caused by fatigue. You could tell he was exhausted at the end.

        Everyone rips the guy for passing at the end instead of taking shots, and it’s ridiculous. Again, in Game 2, he was a decoy basically, because the Heat had better 3-point shooters on the floor, so he hits Chalmers, who misses, and it’s LeBron’s fault? Hardly. Jordan (Kerr, Paxson, etc) and Kobe (Horry, Fisher, etc) have simply had guys that could hit the clutch shot.

  5. Zammael - May 20, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    Elgin Baylor in 1961 was the last player to hit those numbers in the playoffs, according to the twitter link. It’s 50 years, not 25.

  6. phillynac - May 20, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Wow, the fans of the big, bad, Miami Heat are crowing over a game 4 win against the Pacers to even the series? Haha, that is a far cry from counting the number of championships the Heat are going to win. The fans sound scared down in South Beach. They should be. There team is not that good.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 20, 2012 at 7:45 PM

      My apology doesn’t apply to you.

    • dirtyassfish - May 20, 2012 at 8:16 PM

      Looks like someone misses chewing on some human tubesteak smothered in underoos. Philly teams are in trouble.

    • udogg - May 20, 2012 at 10:56 PM

      They’ve simply become just everyone else. The series is tied 2-2 but the crowing bandwagon heat fans would have you believe after that win they just won the series. Who’s got the complex?

    • comeonnowguys - May 21, 2012 at 9:11 AM

      Neither is your spelling.

      Sorry, couldn’t suppress the OCD twitch.

  7. Mr. Wright 212 - May 20, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    All world performance today by James.

    • kinggw - May 20, 2012 at 7:50 PM

      You know LBJ did it big when Mr. Wright gives it up.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - May 20, 2012 at 7:55 PM

        I don’t hate him. I hate sycophants who rave over accomplishing nothing. I give him credit when it’s due. That’s not hard to do. Now, for those who worship him mostly to spite Kobe and don’t give Kobe and the Lakers credit when they win, they’re the ones with the real problem.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 20, 2012 at 8:21 PM

        Truth!

      • edweird0 - May 20, 2012 at 9:22 PM

        @kinggw you just killed me with that comment. Downright Hilarious

  8. 1972wasalongtimeago - May 20, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    I want a four word post from Tampajoey. I want him to write, “Lebron had a great game”. That’s all. He can still hate Lebron. He can still think the Heat won’t win the championship or even this series. But just for today. One time. I want Tampajoey to give the credit to the MVP that is justly and richly deserved.

    So Tampajoey, are you man enough? 4 words.

    • blueintown - May 20, 2012 at 8:06 PM

      “Lebron had a great game” is five words.

      • blueintown - May 20, 2012 at 8:16 PM

        …but I’d still love to see it.

      • bleedgreen4life - May 20, 2012 at 8:16 PM

        Good eye.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 20, 2012 at 8:18 PM

        My editor just got fired.

  9. isujames - May 20, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    I have never, ever,ever,ever, ever,ever seen Kobe put up a line like Lebron just put up.If any Laker fan says he has give me the game/date.

    • savvybynature - May 20, 2012 at 8:18 PM

      Kobe scored like 80 points or something crazy one time. I mean, they are different players so I don’t know if he’s ever put up those identical numbers, but he’s had some unreal games too without a doubt.

      Not a Laker or Kobe fan, but got to keep it real. Maybe you didn’t see much of Kobe when he was younger?

    • 00maltliquor - May 21, 2012 at 4:31 AM

      Ummmm…Kobe put up 81 frickn points. Calm yourself, lets not get all prisoner-of-the-moment here. But MAD props to LeBron. He came through visciously. Great one of the best games in the playoffs he put up. Real talk.

  10. passerby23 - May 20, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    “Haslem, Anthony, and Turiaf have to force defenses to at least guard them.”

    What do you expect them to do at this point in the season? Reinvent their games? Pull offensive repertoires out of their asses? The Heat are what they are. They don’t need Turiaf and Anthony to score to win games, they need some role players to make some three’s and they need Bosh back.

  11. isujames - May 20, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    @Mr.Wrong 12 Kobe always has an off night shooting,so wtf are you talking about?? 8/24, 11/32, 9/25, 13/29, thats what his line usually looks like.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 20, 2012 at 8:37 PM

      Not about Kobe v Lebron. Who even cares? Kobe’s the best. Fine. You happy? Now let’s enjoy today and focus on game 5 Tuesday.

  12. mungman69 - May 20, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    Heat won so everyone is back on their bandwagon.

  13. jimeejohnson - May 20, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    Kobe was the mahn, Lebron IS the mahn by virtue of his MVP. Betcha Lebron would rather win a championship AND be the mahn (like Kobe has been so many times) than just be the mahn…just sayin’! Series is far from over and can still go either way UNLESS DWade & Lebron play the way they did in this game, and that remains to be seen. As a fan of the game, I love the competitive nature of these games. Nobody thought the Pacers could be competitive with the Heat, and that is why the NBA is the best league in the world. Segway into the London Olympics…

  14. shockexchange - May 20, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    Is Lance Stephenson the new M.L. Carr? http://clicky.me/77J5

  15. soflasfinest - May 20, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    Finally someone besides LBJ and D wade stepping up. Our bench/”scrubs” dont need to do much but prove they belong in the league and contribute more than 17 pts a game. Watching UD hit that J like he use to made me shed a tear

    • udogg - May 20, 2012 at 9:23 PM

      Haslem is the reason for the heat win. Forget everything that Wade and James did to get them to that point. Haslem knocked down every shot he was given over the last few minutes.

    • turnmymicup - May 20, 2012 at 11:35 PM

      I feel u on that one. UD stepped it all the way up tonight. His jumper was looking real smooth. He was a key reason for the heat winning. He didnt put up 40, 18, and 9 but thats what LeBron is for. The Heat are looking real hungry right now. Pacers might have a problem heading back down here. I hope the fans are extra loud Tuesday. Go Heat!

  16. geraldthecat - May 20, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Everyone know he is the best player. That is not the point. All of the other best at the time players did it on their own. Name wilts teammates? Do we not only know about Kevin mchale because he played with bird? Did MJ leave Chicago because of the lack of talent? That is the problem with James. If he put these numbers up in Ohio we would all bow to his greatness.

    • scorp16 - May 20, 2012 at 9:59 PM

      Wilt’s first year with the Philadelphia Warriors he played with two Hall-of-Fame guards in Gola and Paul Arizin (who between them were 15x NBA All-Stars).

      He gets traded to the 76ers after the original team relocates and now gets to play with Hal Greer, another Hall of famer and 10x NBA All-Star.

      Then he goes and plays for the Lakers and along side of some guys named Elgin Baylor and Jerry West – two more Hall of Famers and multiple x’s NBA All Stars (but you’ve probably never heard of them).

      So yeah I guess it was poor old Wilt – All by himself. The 5 Hall of Fame Basketball players he played with I guess don’t count.

      You have absolutely no knowledge about the game of Basketball.

      • blueintown - May 21, 2012 at 10:20 AM

        ^ Awesome.

    • borderline1988 - May 20, 2012 at 10:26 PM

      I’m not commenting on whether Lebron’s move to Miami was the right one or not (honestly, that’s up to him), but let me point out that Lebron’s teammates on the Cavs were terrible, and none of those teams come even close to comparing to any of the greats’ championsip teams with regards to how bad they were.

      The year after Lebron left, Cleveland literally had the worst record in the league (19-63…yikes). They had both one of the worst offences and worst defenses in the NBA. They were downright awful. It’s incredible to think that they had the best record in the NBA for the 2 prior years, with basically the same team (sans Lebron).

      Obviously, Lebron cannot even be considered for the GOAT until he wins a few championships. But he might just be the regular-season GOAT. In an age where players are bigger, faster, and more skilled than ever, Lebron has risen above them all, and is clearly the best player in the NBA. What’s incredible is how well-rounded he is. Just look at that line – 40 points, 18 boards, 9 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, excellent defense….There is no other player in the NBA who I can imagine could come up with a line that like that, unless it was a 1 in 100 occurence; yet, it wouldn’t surprise me if Lebron does the same thing in game 5.

      I know there’s a lot of people who don’t like Lebron b/c of his prima donna attitude, but at least appreciate just how incredible his game was today.

  17. diamondmo33 - May 20, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Hate to say I told you so, but…

  18. pistolpete0903 - May 20, 2012 at 11:15 PM

    Let’s give credit when it is due. LBJ was lights out today (the only time I remember him being so transcedental was against the Pistons in the ECF few years ago).
    Looking forward, foul trouble of Pacers big men (especially Hibbert) is crucial in the next 3 games (any1 willing to bet the series won’t go the full distance!!). Hibbert did change a lot of drives to the basket (especially from Wade) early in the game. The Pacers need him for a large chunk of time to exploit the absence of Bosh.
    Tuesday cannot come early enough!!!

  19. jh4prez - May 20, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    Start packin coach Calipari!you’re heading to south!

  20. jh4prez - May 20, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    If bosh played this would have been a sweep.if spoelstra was a better coach this would have been a sweep.if wade hadnt done his dissapearing act this would have been a sweep.btw 18 boards!!btw brons shutting down the pacers supposed best player.imo this level of ball has NEVER been seen before.this cats the best offensive and defensive player on earth at both ends of the floor.

    • kappneffect - May 21, 2012 at 10:48 AM

      hahah… If being the key here I guess…. If LeBron went to Indiana this would’ve been a sweep… If the Pacers decided to throw in the towel it would’ve been a sweep… If Wade and James weren’t team mates it would have been a……. you get it… IF IF IF IF IF

      Stop making excuses… they have LeBron freaking James and Wade on the floor…. they theorectically should be pulling them in, right? hahaha….

      Just sit back and take it if it comes or cry if doesn’t, but don’t make excuses.

  21. lemfax - May 21, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    Who is granger? Please teach him how to become a team leader…

    • kappneffect - May 21, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      Haha… I am sure quite a few players need that class this semester, eh??

  22. mungman69 - May 21, 2012 at 12:31 AM

    Wilt was better than anyone

  23. abchome - May 21, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    What? The Heat would have lost if Lebron were “only” 30-18-9… The Pacers have to be very confident now.

  24. DonRSD - May 21, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    What a monster game LBJ had.
    Thank God Haslem started hitting some shots :)

  25. udogg - May 21, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    Series is in no way over. Remember everyone got the extra day off, and that rest helped the heat as much as anything. Pacers just got win on Miami’s floor. No good reason exists to suggest they can’t do it again. We now have a 3 game series.

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