Heat take command of East finals with 102-90 win
MIAMI (AP) — Chris Bosh got them started and LeBron James took over in the second half. In the end, the Miami Heat moved one win from yet another Eastern Conference title.
James had 32 points and 10 rebounds and Bosh added 25 points — nearly matching his output from the first three games of the series combined — as the Heat grabbed control of the East finals by topping the Indiana Pacers 102-90 in Game 4 for a 3-1 lead.
Dwyane Wade added 15 points and Miami never trailed, leading by 23 at one point.
“We try to get better every single day, every single game,” James said. “When you do that and go out and play the type of game that you are capable of playing, you can be satisfied with the results. And that’s what we’ve built over the years.”
Only the Celtics and Lakers franchises have been to the NBA Finals in four straight seasons. The Heat now have three chances to join that club, starting with Game 5 at Indiana on Wednesday night.
“We got outplayed by the Heat,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “I wasn’t disappointed in our fight. I was disappointed in the result.”
Paul George scored 23 points and David West added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, who got 15 points from George Hill. But Lance Stephenson — who made news in the days between Games 3 and 4 by suggesting he was in James’ head — was held to nine and 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert was scoreless in 22 minutes for Indiana.
Miami has won the last three games in the series, and going back to the point in Game 3 when the Heat trailed by 15, they have outscored the Pacers by 39 points in a span of about 6½ quarters.
The Pacers won two elimination games in the first round against Atlanta, and need to win three more if their yearlong plan of topping Miami is going to become reality.
The odds are obviously stacked against them. When holding a 3-1 lead, Miami is 8-0 in Game 5s over the past four postseasons.
“We have a chance to play an NBA game on our home floor,” West said. “We are going to try to do something that’s very tough.”
Miami outscored Indiana 31-20 in the third quarter and kept pulling away before the Pacers used a 15-3 run to make things more interesting. Stephenson had a layup with 3:20 left that would have gotten Indiana within nine — but it was waved off after he was called for fouling Wade on his way to the basket.
Stephenson scored with 1:31 left to make it 99-90, but James snuffed out any comeback hopes right there with a three-point play.
It was the 74th playoff game where James had at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists, passing Michael Jordan for the most in NBA history.
In the other conference final series, San Antonio takes a 2-1 lead to Oklahoma City on Tuesday.