INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — LeBron James scored 40 points, superstar sidekick Dwyane 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.
James was at his MVP best, adding 18 rebounds and nine assists and refusing to let Miami’s season slip away. 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.
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.
And this time, Wade joined him.
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. James added 14 as well in the period as the pair landed a 1-2 punch on the Pacers’ chin.
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.
NOTES: The national anthem was performed on harmonica by 85-year-old Carl Erskin, who pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1948-59. Erskin is an Indiana native. … James passed time before the game reading “Hunger Games” in the Heat’s locker room. … Heat owner Micky Arison was asked for his autograph by several fans sitting near the Miami bench. “You must be desperate,” he cracked.
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