A day after the NBA fined George $25,000 for public criticism of referees, he scored 31 of his game-high 37 points in the second half and 21 in the fourth quarter. More importantly, his Indiana Pacers defeated the Miami Heat 93-90 in Game 5 Wednesday to keep their season alive.
“My message to the whole team was, ‘The light needs to be on green for all of us. You need to go. You need to attack. You need to be aggressive,’ ” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “‘Paul took it and ran with it and took it to a crazy level.”
But that’s just half the story, and the other half is a huge one. Heat star LeBron James spent a significant portion of the game in foul trouble. He collected his second foul in the first quarter, his third in the second and had his fifth foul with 8:34 left in the third quarter.
James had playoff career lows in points (seven) and minutes played (24:21), and once again, the officiating will be under the microscope.
James fouled out only once during the regular season and had five fouls in a game twice. James didn’t reach double figures in points for just the second time in his 152-game playoff career.
Miami played well enough in the first half with James on the bench to take a 42-33 lead into halftime. The Pacers failed to take advantage with James on the bench for 13 minutes and 33 seconds.
But Indiana made the Heat pay with James on the bench in the second half, outscoring the Heat 33-17 and holding off a late Miami rally. The Heat had a chance to tie or take the lead late in the fourth, but James drove to the basket and passed to Heat center Chris Bosh, who missed a three-pointer from corner with 4.9 seconds left.
“We made sure we had rim protection and scrambled to the three-point line,” Vogel said. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, “He went for the kill. We’ll take that look.”
Bosh led the Heat with 20 points, and Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis each had 18 points for Miami. The Heat made 15 of 31 three-point attempts.
“We overcame one heck of a shooting performance by the Heat,” Vogel said. “The threes that they were making in the second half was just ridiculous. Their shot‑making was ridiculous, and we were still able to prevail. So I’m very proud of our guys.” (usatoday.com)