The Miami Heat won the first game of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Indiana Pacers 95-86. LeBron James scored 32 points and pulled in 15 rebounds, while Dwyane Wade added 29 points. The two scored 22 of the Heat's 25 fourth quarter points.
James showed why NBA Commissioner David Stern presented him with his third MVP trophy before the game, scoring half his points in the fourth quarter. By themselves, Wade and James outscored the Pacers 42-38 in the second half.
The Pacers led 48-42 at halftime, but faded down the stretch after Miami adjusted on defense. Miami held Indiana to 30 percent shooting from the field after intermission.
Miami's first-half play was, to be charitable, subpar. The Heat coughed up 8 turnovers and shot just 37 percent, while allowing Indiana to hit 50 percent of its shots. Indiana led 48-42 at the half. Aside from Chris Bosh, who shot 6 for 11 during the first half, Miami's other starters combined to shoot just 6 for 24.
Bosh scored 13 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in his shortened stint. It is unknown whether Bosh will be available for Game 2 on Tuesday evening. He will undergo an MRI on Sunday evening, which is not a reassuring sign with regards to his chances of returning for Game 2.
Ronny Turiaf started the second half in his place, splitting time with Joel Anthony. In one of his best performances since being removed from the starting lineup late in the regular season, Anthony scored 9 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.
Miami struggled from downtown, missing all 6 of its three-point attempts, but made up for it by attacking the painted area. During the third quarter, when Miami fought back to a 70-70 tie, the Heat scored 18 points in the paint, compared to just 4 for Indiana.
The Heat also got a number of Pacers into foul trouble early, drawing 31 fouls by game's end. Indiana coach Frank Vogel complained before the series that Miami's players deserve some Oscar nominations for their dramatic foul-drawing skills, earning a $15,000 fine from the NBA in the process.
"He was just manipulating the refereeing or trying to," Stern said in a televised interview during the game. "I would have fined him much more than our office did. But I tell you what, I think it's a legitimate concern.
If he had hoped to influence the refs with his comments, it apparently did not work. Center Roy Hibbert was in the game for just 29 minutes due to foul trouble, giving Indiana little chance to exploit its size advantage.
Game 2 will tip off at 7 p.m. from the American Airlines Arena.