INDIANAPOLIS -- Roy Hibbert and Paul George paced Indiana in Game 6, with timely help from David West, George Hill and Lance Stephenson.
Facing elimination in the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers determined early they would ride center Roy Hibbert and forward Paul George as far and as long as they could.
Indiana’s dynamic duo refused to let the Pacers die, getting help from its supporting cast long the way at critical times to starve off elimination 91-77 on Saturday night.
Hibbert’s 24 points and 11 rebounds along with George’s 28 points provided firepower Indiana was missing in Game 5. George Hill added 16 points while David West and Lance Stephenson pulled down 14 and 12 rebounds, respectively.
No shot was bigger than George’s three-pointer just under the six0minute mark of the fourth quarter to give the Pacers a 75-68 lead. Miami had cut a 13-point deficit to start the period to four points (72-68), ending with consecutive baskets by LeBron James.
George’s basket sparked a 9-0 run, included two technical foul free throws, which gave the Pacers enough to across the Game 6 finish line.
In Game 5 in Miami, the Heat used a big third quarter to turn that contest into its favor. On Saturday, it was the Pacers’ time to use the same period as a springboard. Indiana held the Heat to six points over the first 10 minutes of the period.
With the defensive effort well in hand, Hibbert and George provided the offense, scoring 19 of the Pacers’ 29 points in the third quarter.
Hibbert’s dunk off the dribble with 5:48 left in the third quarter capped a 14-2 Pacers run to start the third quarter to give Indiana a 53-42 lead. The dunk appeared the double the noise volume in the arena — energy the Pacers needed after an up-and-down first half.
George added a three-pointer at the 5:05 mark after Dwyane Wade made a long-range shot to help maintain Indiana’s momentum.
George and Hibbert combined for 26 of Indiana’s 39 points in the first half, but the first 24 minutes might be remembered more for Indiana’s missed early chances to take command of the game.
The Pacers missed their biggest chance to control the game in the second quarter. Leading 31-25, the Pacers missed fired on its next possession and turned it over on the following series.
Then Indiana took Miami deep into the shot clock before giving up a reverse layup to Ray Allen. That started a 6-0 Heat run that tied the game at 31-all.
A Hibbert tip-in and a short turnaround on consecutive possessions late in the second quarter allowed the Pacers to go back up 39-36 with 53.6 seconds left before halftime.
But Indiana’s defense failed the again, as Joel Anthony tipped in a basket and James converted a fast break dunk after a blocked shot at the end of the quarter, giving the Heat a 40-39 lead at halftime.
Indiana did not allow an offensive rebound in the first quarter and grabbed a 15-9 edge on the boards early. But Miami’s hot shooting from the three-point line negated the advantage, and Indiana found itself behind 23-21 after the first quarter.