Paul George scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and buoyed the Indiana Pacers to a comeback 93-90 win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. With the win, the Pacers stay alive, and the series goes back to Miami for one game.
Before George went off, LeBron James was the story of the game, and not for the normal reason. James struggled all night with foul trouble and finished with seven points, a career playoff low, and five fouls.
James played only 10 minutes in the first half, and he had two points and three fouls at the break. He started the third quarter, and he picked up his fourth personal on Indiana's first possession, fouling Roy Hibbert through a made shot. Erik Spoelstra left him in the game. Three minutes later, Lance Stephenson stripped James about 35 feet from the basket. In the scramble for the loose ball, James leaped on top of Stephenson and was called for his fifth foul with 8:34 left in the third.
Miami somehow thrived in the first half with James on the bench; in the first and second quarters, Miami outscored the Pacers 17-6 with James seated. But in the third quarter when James picked up No. 5, the Pacers made their run. Down, 50-41, with seven minutes to go after a Dwyane Wade jumper, the Pacers scored the next 11 points to take their first lead since early in the second quarter.
We don't really need to say much more about the first half. Miami scored 16 points in the first quarter, and the Pacers scored 11 in the second.
Indiana held a four-point lead with the final shot of the third quarter when the inbounds pass came to George.
George was just getting started.
The Pacers' fourth-quarter lead swelled as large as 11 before Miami scored nine straight to get within a single possession and still more than six minutes to play. George stopped Miami's run with a pull-up jumper. Miami never retook the lead thanks to George's heroics. Rashard Lewis brought Miami within one at 85-84 with 2:06 to go, and George answered the next trip down with a three. Chris Bosh hit a three on the Heat's next possession, and George answered right back again with a three of his own.
George was 8 of 10 from the floor in the fourth quarter. If he was the steering wheel guiding Indiana, it was Stephenson's foot on the pedal. Stephenson was reckless and weird. He finished with 12 points, and did this:
Down, 92-90, with 13.6 seconds to go, Miami found Bosh with a reasonably-open three. It rimmed out, and Indiana secured the rebound to David West, running out. He made 1 of 2 free throws, and time expired as the rebound was being tapped around.