LeBron James and the Miami Heat faced a four-point deficit at halftime in Game 5, but James made sure Miami took a 3-2 series lead after a dominant third quarter. James finished the game with 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but it was his assertiveness on offense during a pivotal third stanza that changed the course of the game, and perhaps the series.
James said that he noticed the Heat were in "wait mode" and that he "went back to [his] Cleveland days at that point" to make sure his team didn't fall behind the Indiana Pacers in the series.
"I took it upon myself to stop waiting and just go," James said after the game.
And go he did. The responsibility fell on James' shoulders while Dwyane Wade scored only 10 and Chris Bosh added in just seven of his own. James outscored the entire Pacers team 16-13 in the third while also grabbing four rebounds and dishing four assists. The four-point deficit Miami carried into the third quarter became a 13-point lead, and the Heat never looked back as James led them to victory.
James either scored or assisted on 25 of Miami's 30 points in the third quarter. Three of his four assists were to Udonis Haslem, who has continued to play a huge role for the Heat through the Eastern Conference finals.
When asked about what he saw in James, Haslem said it was the same look James had against Boston in the playoffs last season. "It' s just a look of determination. It's a look that says I'm not going to quit." Haslem added that James' look "says I'm going to do whatever it takes to put us in position to win the game."
"That's LeBron showing his greatness and making it look easy," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game. "His engine in that third quarter was incredible. He was tireless. He was rebounding -- covering so much ground defensively, then virtually making every play for us offensively."
James is now one game away from his third straight NBA Finals appearance as he pursues his second NBA championship. The NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player turned in an impressive third quarter in Game 5 that was exactly what Miami needed to move a game closer to another Larry O'Brien trophy.
Quotes via the NBA's live press conference stream.