Miami, FL – The Indiana Pacers gave away a golden opportunity when their stout defense crumbled down the stretch of Game 1.
LeBron James had the chance to be a hero again on Friday, but Indiana forced the Heat superstar into back-to-back turnovers late to secure a 97-93 victory over Miami in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Roy Hibbert, who was on the bench when James provided the game-winning layup in the series opener, put fourth a dominating performance by supplying the Pacers with a team-best 29 points and 10 rebounds.
David West and George Hill each came up with steals of James in last 42 seconds of play. West totaled 13 points and seven boards while Hill chipped in 18 points -- including four free throws to lock down the victory.
James tallied a game-high 36 points with eight rebounds, but also had a team- worst five turnovers.
"Very disappointing, of course, for me. That's the first thing I always look at on the stat sheet is my turnovers," said James. "I had two key ones at a big point of the game. I am very disappointed in my judgment and my plays down the stretch. But I'll make up for them."
The Heat had 15 giveaways as a team.
The series will shift to Indiana for Game 3 on Sunday. The Pacers have not lost on their home floor this postseason, winning all six of their contests.
"It's a nice win. It's good to split. And we haven't done anything yet," said Hibbert. "We haven't closed the series out. We won one game. A lot of us feel we should be up 2-0 obviously with the last play of Game 1."
The heartbreaking series opening defeat didn't seem to phase Indiana or Paul George, who poured in 14 of his 22 points in second half.
The Pacers were the better team nearly the whole way, as they shot 50 percent for the game, were a plus-7 on the boards and converted 26-of-32 from the free throw line.
However, a four-minute stretch in the fourth quarter without a basket had them facing a four-point deficit, 88-84, with under six minutes to play.
Lance Stephenson, who struggled offensively with 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, buried a huge triple with 5:25 left to bring the Pacers within one and Hibbert followed with a layup to put them back in front.
James donated 21 of his points over the final 24 minutes, and his ensuing three-point play gave Miami a two-point edge and its last lead of the contest.
Hibbert and West scored consecutive baskets for Indiana, but Chris Bosh countered for Miami with a pair of free throws to tie the score at 93-93.
Dwyane Wade scored 14 points for Miami, but after a Stephenson turnover gave the Heat possession with 1:12 left, he misfired on a go-ahead jumper.
Hill drew a foul and went to the line to sink a pair of free throws with 48.9 seconds to play. The Heat turned to James, the reigning MVP, to take them home, but the superstar failed to deliver.
He tried swinging a no-look pass to Ray Allen behind the arc, but West deflected and intercepted it. James got another chance with 17.5 seconds left when Indiana was called for a shot clock violation, but again turned it over.
Hill this time came up with the forced pass and sank another pair of free throws to ice the win for Indiana.
The Pacers started 8-of-9 from the field and raced out to a double-digit lead after George turned James' bad pass into two easy points and a 22-12 lead.
Despite six turnovers in the opening frame, Miami cut its deficit to six by the end of the quarter and drew even at 37-37 midway through the second after Bosh capped a 7-0 spurt with a 3-pointer and a 20-footer.
Indiana fired back by getting in the paint and drawing fouls, making nine free throws during an ensuing 16-3 surge to build a 53-40 lead. The Heat, though, closed out the half with seven straight points, with Mike Miller's buzzer beating 3-pointer from the corner to send Miami into the break trailing 53-47.
The Pacers built their lead back up to nine, but Bosh had a pair a baskets -- including a 3-point play -- to spark an 11-2 run, which James finished off with a driving score to tie the game at 60-60.
George had four baskets in last six-plus minutes of the third, and his last was an emphatic one. With the clock winding down in the third, George blew past James and threw down a ferocious one-handed slam over Chris Andersen. George was fouled on the play and knocked down the bonus shot, but James fired right back by draining a 29-foot triple to send the Heat into the fourth trailing by two, 76-74.
The loss is just the Heat's fourth in their last 50 games ... James has scored at least 30 points in five straight conference title games ... Indiana generated 14 points off 15 Miami turnovers ... Pacers forward Sam Young sprained his left ankle late in the third quarte