Heat | LeBron James struggles

Rashard Lewis’ 18 points not enough for Miami Heat in Game 5 loss

 <span class="cutline_leadin">His aim was true</span>: Heat forward Rashard Lewis shoots over Pacers guard Lance Stephenson in the first quarter of Game 5.
His aim was true: Heat forward Rashard Lewis shoots over Pacers guard Lance Stephenson in the first quarter of Game 5.
Al Diaz / Staff Photo


Here’s a snapshot of how wacky, nutty and just plain bizarre Wednesday night was for the Heat:

At intermission, Rashard Lewis had triple the points as LeBron James. And as the fourth quarter began, he had six times as many.

That’s the same 34-year-old Rashard Lewis who had scored 21 points — total — in the postseason and entered the night making only three of his 21 playoff three-point attempts.

But Lewis turned back time Wednesday night.

He took four first-half shots in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. He made two of them.

Compared to the foul-plagued James, it was a deluge.

James picked up three fouls in just 10 minutes of game time in the first half. He scored two points on 1 of 5 shooting before the break. And yet, Miami went into the locker room with its biggest halftime lead of the series.

How? The Heat played far better with James on the bench than on the floor. The Pacers outscored Miami 18-14 with James in the first half. The Heat outscored Indiana 28-15 with him in a seat.

“We know that we’ve got a lot of guys on this team that can help us win ballgames, especially on the bench,” said Lewis, who made 6 of 9 three-point attempts. “I felt like a lot of guys stepped up tonight, hung tough, kept the game close. We gave ourselves the opportunity to win when our best player was in foul trouble.”

Sure, abysmal first-half Pacers shooting played a big role. Indy missed 20 of 35 attempts from the field in the first half.

But the Heat also got a collective effort from its more seasoned players to keep afloat during James’ endless rest.

(James was on the floor for three minutes of real-time basketball over a 61-minute span from the middle of the first half through halftime.)

Ray Allen, who was questionable to play with a hip injury, led all Heat players with 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting at the break. Dwyane Wade chipped in eight. And Lewis had six. The shared labor carried Miami to a 42-33 halftime lead.

Miami seemed to have weathered the storm.

And then James picked up his fourth and fifth fouls in the third quarter’s first 3 1/2 minutes. It was the first time in his career that James had five fouls through three quarters. This time, the Pacers pounced.

Indianapolis outscored Miami 27-12 with James as a spectator for the third period’s final 8:33.

In the end, the Heat’s role players did their part. Lewis poured in an out-of-nowhere 18 points.

He missed his first three-point attempt. But six of his last eight were true.

“The first one, I missed and it felt great,” Lewis said. “The guys told me just keep shooting. When I finally hit one, I was just waiting on the next one.”

But James never could get going. He finished with seven points. Pacers star Paul George, meanwhile, had 37.

And that chasm is why there will be a Game 6 Friday.

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