The Indiana Pacers lived to fight another day after clamping down on defense in the third quarter and surviving a furious run in the fourth quarter to win Game 6, 91-77. The series now heads back to Miami for Game 7 Monday night.
It seemed everything was going wrong for the Miami Heat after a disastrous third quarter that saw a one-point halftime lead turn into a 13-point deficit. Still, there they were close midway through the fourth quarter with a chance to put the Pacers away. LeBron James and the little-used Mike Miller sparked a 13-4 run to bring the Heat within four, and all the momentum was on Miami's side.
But a Paul George three-pointer stopped the bleeding and sparked a 9-0 run by the Pacers to regain control. The crucial play of the game came during that run, James attacked the basket and collided with Roy Hibbert at the rim. James was called for an offensive foul, then a technical foul after he sprinted back down the court in disbelief.
Miami assistant coach David Fizdale was also called for a technical for arguing the call. George Hill sank both technical free throws and on the next play, Paul George found Hibbert in the lane for a layup to put the Pacers up 81-68 with four minutes to go, effectively putting the game out of reach.
After a back-and-forth first half, the pendulum really swung in Indiana's favor in the third quarter, when the Pacers defense absolutely shut down the Heat offense. Miami scored just five points in the first eight minutes of the quarter on a couple of Dwyane Wade baskets that came nearly five minutes apart. Meanwhile, Hibbert and George and the rest of the Pacers continued to pound the paint, scoring five of their nine made baskets within 11 feet. The Heat finished the third quarter with just 15 points, all of those coming from Wade and James, and trailed 68-55 heading in to the fourth quarter.
That first half saw 18 ties and lead changes and the largest lead for either team was six. While Wade and Chris Bosh struggled to get their offense going, James did get help from the Miami bench, especially Norris Cole. The second-year guard scored nine points in the first half, mostly while James was on the bench. James would come back in to help the Heat score four straight points and take a 40-39 halftime lead.
James led all scorers with 29 points, but only Wade also scored in double figures with 10 and he shot just 3-11. Chris Bosh was even worse, notching just five points and four rebounds on 1-8 shooting. Meanwhile, the scoring was much more balanced for the Pacers as George had 28 points, Hibbert had 24, while Hill added 14 and David West, fighting a respiratory infection, chipped in 11.
Game 7 is set for Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET from the American Airlines Arena and can be seen on TNT.