BY GEORGE, HE DID IT!
George hit an impossibly dramatic three-pointer from 32 feet with 0.7 seconds left to force overtime after Ray Allen missed 1 of 2 free throws with 17.1 seconds left. The Heat led 91-89 after some late-game heroics by Wade but Allen couldnt put the game away and George drained his unlikely shot at the end of regulation.
Wade had two important field goals out of timeouts in the final three minutes of regulation. First, he finished an alley-oop from James with 2:31 to play to give Miami an 87-84 lead. Then, with under a minute to play, Wade flashed a vision of his old self to give Miami a 91-89 lead with 42.6 seconds left in regulation.
The Heats timing was a touch off for most of the game. James missed a pair of free throws to begin the fourth quarter and then Norris Cole committed Miamis 16th turnover when he left his feet for a pass without really knowing where to throw the ball.
The Heat had 21 turnovers overall and was only 16 of 25 from the free-throw line.
Still, despite the off night, the Heat kept the score close with relentless defensive pressure, timely shots, and, of course, the leagues four-time MVP.
James scored or assisted on the Heats first nine points of the final period. His assist on a baseline dunk by Chris Andersen gave Miami a 74-73 lead with 8:11 left. Andersen then pushed the precarious lead to three points with a tip-in on the Heats next possession.
The put-back basket gave Andersen 12 points on six shots but he wasnt done. He rejected a dunk attempt by Lance Stephenson with 5:52 left and then sprinted the full length of the court for a finger roll in transition to put Miami ahead 80-77. Andersen set a career postseason high for points and field goals and set a Heat franchise postseason record for most field goals in a game without a miss. Alonzo Mourning held the old record (six).
Without his effort we dont win this game, James said of Andersen.
SLOPPY FIRST HALF
It was a sloppy but entertaining first half, with the Heat committing 13 turnovers and the Pacers giving away 12 possessions. Entering Game 1, the Heat was averaging just 14.8 turnovers per game in the playoffs. Shooting was a problem as well. Miami was 2 of 7 from three-point range and 3 of 6 from the free-throw line in the first half.
While most of the first half seemed like a replay of the Heats poor start against Chicago in the second round, there were bright spots. Udonis Haslem delivered a key sequence with the Heat trailing 39-32. His baseline dunk cut the Pacers lead to five with 2:37 left in the second period. Seconds later, Haslem absorbed an offensive charge by West, which gave the Pacers dominant power forward three fouls.
Removing West from the game due to foul trouble was pretty much the only way the Heats defenders could stop him. West had 18 of Indianas 42 points in the first half. He was 8 of 11 from the field and powered through every post player the Heat threw his way.
And, of course, there were the first signs of what will certainly be a physical series. Andersen received a technical foul in the second quarter for instigating an altercation with Tyler Hansbrough.
• Heat starting point guard Mario Chalmers left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury after a hard screen by Hibbert. Team trainers will re-evaluate Chalmers on Thursday.