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Paul George, Pacers defense shows up when it matters, Indiana lives to play another day

May 29, 2014, 12:12 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Game 5 Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers played with a real sense of desperation. Paul George played like the elite, Top 10 player he believes he is, Lance Stephenson was fully into the game and fully entertaining.

Well, they didn’t do that consistently all game, they are the Indiana Pacers after all.

But with LeBron James in foul trouble in the second half the Pacers stepped up and extended their defensive pressure, Paul George had 31 points on 12-of-19 shooting in the second half (the Heat defended him but George was 11-of-18 on contested shots), and Stephenson was blowing in LeBron James’ ear.

That was enough.

Barely. In the most entertaining game of this series and one of the more bizarre playoff games in years, the Indiana Pacers hung on to win 93-90 and take Game 5 on their home court. The Heat lead the series 3-2 and head home to Miami on Friday with the chance to close the series out.

For stretches of Game 5 the Pacers looked like the team that was elite the first half of the regular season. They gave Miami a dose of what the Heat gave them for the past three games — the Pacers extended their defensive pressure, forced turnovers that became transition buckets the other way, and generally played with great energy. More than they had all season.

That worked particularly well once LeBron picked up his second personal foul of the second half just more than three minutes in, giving him five and forcing coach Eric Spoelstra to sit him. Miami led at that point but an energized and desperate Pacers team went on a 16-2 run and by early in the fourth quarter their lead had swollen to 11.

Paul George’s star turn fueled a lot of that run — he got buckets, particularly hitting the difficult, contested shots that the Pacers have lacked much of the series. George finished with 37 points, he hit five threes, plus he had six steals. He looked every bit the All-Star. Everything he threw up seemed to go in.

And yet the Heat had their chances at the end.

That was really the story of the game.

From the opening tip Pacers were more aggressive on offense than we had seen since Game 1, attacking the rim and just with better ball movement. Behind that Indiana shot 50 percent — and grabbed the offensive rebound on half of their misses — to Miami’s 36.7 percent in the first quarter.

Yet it was just a six point game, 22-16 after one. Indiana didn’t create any separation. That came back to haunt them in the second quarter when Miami’s defense cranked up and once again the Pacers couldn’t handle the pressure on the ball. Their offense was just stumbling and ugly. Indiana scored just 11 points in the second quarter, shot 33 percent and had six turnovers. Meanwhile Ray Allen had 10 points in the second quarter, the Heat shot 58.8 percent.

It looked like the Pacers were in real trouble in this game when they were down 42-33 at the half and the Heat were +13 with LeBron on the bench.

But for the first time in a while Indiana showed some real resolve, played with desperation, they extended their defense (Miami shot 5-of-17 in the quarter) and that led to some better looks on offense off turnovers. Plus the Pacers just knocked down shots they had missed in the second quarter and the previous three games. Indiana won the third quarter 31-15 and lead by 7 entering fourth.

The lead got up to 11 but then Miami answered with a 9-0 run of their own, scoring 18 points on first 10 possessions of fourth quarter. Rashard Lewis was suddenly hot — he finished the game with 18 points on six made three pointers.

When LeBron tied the game with a pull up three, 81-81 with 3:45 left, it felt like the kind of situation Miami has won and Indiana has faltered this series.

But George and Stephenson wouldn’t let that happen. While George was hitting dramatic shots and engaged and energized (if not always focused) Stephenson did a good job defending LeBron. He wouldn’t let LeBron own the game.

Indiana hung on through a wild ending that included missed free throws and a Heat chance to tie at the buzzer.

It was a great game.

The kind we’d hoped this entire series would have been like. This Pacers team is fun to watch. I wish it would show up more often.

133 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. kastout11 - May 29, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    I know the Pacers won this one, but their offense is terrible. George saved their season. He cannot do it in games 6 and 7 though.

    • moppop - May 29, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      You do know that there are hunderds of quotes from accomplished people stating that the best motivator is doubt and naysayers. Never underestimate the power of desparation.

  2. jbeagles23 - May 29, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    The heat act like champions. The pacers are what fans accuse the heat of. Stephenson is going to get fined for flopping again, the pacers all cried about officiating after game 4, then bang their chests like they won the championship after games 5. Everyone and I mean everyone knows the heat win game 6

    • bball242322 - May 29, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      U clearly don’t know Pacer fans…We’re pretty optimistic

  3. wallabear - May 29, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    Shoulda known Da Heat was gon’ throw Game 5 so dey can win at home on Friday (rolling eyes)

  4. 25yearindyfan - May 29, 2014 at 9:20 AM


    Who was banging their chest like they won the title? Just curios. Oh nobody. Right.

    • bball242322 - May 29, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      Well said. Jbeagles is a typical Heat troll looking to hate on the Pacers as much as possible

  5. udogg - May 29, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    @kinggw said: “LBJ only earned one of the five fouls he was called for”

    The exact same thing could be said for so many of the calls that are made against the rest of the league and at an

    Its a superstars game, and when the superstar is treated like everyone else (as he should be) the commentary blows up.

    Did the refs miss the call on Hibbert? Maybe, but it happens every day in the NBA to everyone else. If Mike Dunleavy was driving at Paul George and lowered his shoulder squarely in the center of George’s chest, who would have gotten the call? If Chandler Parson’s was blocking Stephenson from getting to a loose ball and hip checked Stephenson when Stephenson got around him who would have gotten the call?

    James does not deserve better treatment than the rest of the league, although he gets it daily. Last night that didn’t happen.

    • bball242322 - May 29, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      So true

  6. bougin89 - May 29, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    At least the game was close this time but Lebron was rendered ineffective because of foul trouble. This series has really disappointed me. I wanted the Pacers to be playing well(like they can) and the Heat to be healthy and going at it.

  7. bball242322 - May 29, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    These Heat trolls are just too funny. First it’s the Heat will sweep the Pacers. Then it’s Heat will crush them in 5, and now it’s Heat by 30 in Game 6. Make up your mind
    Then the Heat trolls want to talk about the officiating and how LBJ was in foul trouble. Oh was that not the case for the Pacers in a few games this series? PG and West were in early foul trouble in a couple of their losses.
    Then they also want to talk about how LBJ hardly played and the Heat barely lost – well okay that means Rashard Lewis wouldn’t be out there draining 3 after 3 in his best possible performance because LBJ would be on the floor instead of Lewis getting expanded minutes. Also, Ray Allen has been playing incredibly well this whole series, he’s a huge reason for Heat’s success in this series.
    Will the Heat win this series? Likely yes, but just quit with all the disrespect and the garbage talk u Heat trolls give the Pacers. Learn to have respect and give credit when credit is due. Pacers will be around for many years to come, so get used to it Heat trolls

  8. udogg - May 29, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    All anyone needs to know about the bias in favor of Lebron James is demonstrated and can be found on They have an actual article breaking down everyone of Lebron’s fouls with gifs.

    Has any other NBA player in the history of gifs had every one of his fouls broken down with video evidence and then commentary? Doubting Thomas here.

    Imagine if any other player received that kind of public benefit on a national website. In fact, it is my hope that the writer will find gifs of every call for Lebron and Wade that never should have been called. Might take years and too many gigabytes to chronicle.

    This kind of coverage will provide the pacers no chance to win tomorrow.

  9. pphins4life12 - May 29, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Once again.. When the heat win you maybe get 40-50 Comments. When they lose 100 plus then can’t hear from you clowns.. smt…

  10. golfrangeman - May 29, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    @babyfart aren’t you the same guy that said the finals were set for LBJ and Kobe in 09 but Timmy D got in the way? Of course he hadn’t been working since 07 and was serving time in jail.
    You also refuse to explain why the lakers, Knicks and Celtics didn’t even make the playoffs if the fix is on. Never once have you said HOW they fix games without anybody finding out.
    And finally if you don’t like the product don’t watch the games and do us all a favor stop posting ignorant baseless comments.

    • babyfarkmcgeezax - May 29, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      Clearly you have me confused for someone else, as I have never commented here about Lebron and Kobe in 2009. Are you a foolish fool?

  11. golfrangeman - May 29, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    @ bball24 with LBJ -4 with him on the bench +13 really so the heat won the game by 9.
    Go back to school idiot !!!!

  12. golfrangeman - May 29, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    @ anti I know your a big LBJ fan so I don’t know if your just trying to be diplomatic here but I don’t see what you see. I can’t see anything on that George Hill call that warrants a foul and Stevenson clearly went through LeBron first ( that’s a foul in any era).
    I can’t see how he could realistically play any different and be effective at all. I’m certainly not claiming any kind of fix but I have to agree I’ve never seen an nba game called quite like that.

  13. golfrangeman - May 29, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    @bball your really sticking with that +13 without LBJ and -4 with. It’s scary to think that you can’t figure out on you own that +9 heat win!!!

  14. golfrangeman - May 29, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    My bad babyface it wasn’t you. Now maybe you can explain how the nba fixes games. Also you seem to use the word fool a lot, what’s behind that?

    • johnc44 - May 29, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      How could NBA games possibly fix games?First i would say fix is the wrong word.
      I just say officials dictate many outcomes by how they call a game.In the regular season we learned from the Tim Donaghy situation and how he bet on games by knowing relationships between refs and coaches or players.In the playoffs it`s even simpler.Refs get paid by the game.If they can get an extra game or two from a series refs make more money.It`s really not that hard to do (keep players off the court) or understand (everything is about money).

  15. golfrangeman - May 29, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    @john yes the refs could purposely choose to miss calls in order to extend a series and ref more games,but even in this case the league would have to be in on it since they evaluate the refs and would fire them if their performance was poor. Whether you would like to admit it or not this is 2014 you can’t hide what your suggesting for long, and no one as intelligent as the commissioner would be willing to risk serious jail time and for what.

    • johnc44 - May 30, 2014 at 7:46 AM

      Many fouls are subjective.The 5 fouls on Lebron could all be argued either way.Worse calls have been made and missed so you can`t prove why they made a call.They have a union too so punishment without proof wouldn`t work.The commissioner isn`t going to be subject to jail time over refs making subjective calls.

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