Center Roy Hibbert scored 23 points as the Indiana Pacers went on a 13-3 run to close the game and beat the Miami Heat 99-92 in Game 4 of their NBA semi-final series on Tuesday.
The Pacers were blown out of Game 3 by the Heat, but rebounded mightily at home on Tuesday against the defending NBA champions to level the series at 2-2.
“We know they are the champs and we are going to be fighting an uphill battle, but we are never going to give up,” Hibbert said. “They counted us out, but those guys in the locker room were ready to play, and we went out there and played our hearts out.”
After scoring a franchise-record 70 points in the first half of Game 3, Miami struggled on offense in Game 4 and had just 72 points midway through the final quarter.
LeBron James scored a team-high 24 points for the Heat before fouling out in the fourth quarter of the Eastern Conference contest, with the winner of the best-of-seven series advancing to the NBA finals.
“They keyed in on me,” James said. “I was able to get it going a little bit in the second half, but played most of it in foul trouble.”
With James on the bench, the Pacers’ offense sealed the win in front of a crowd of 18,165 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena.
Hibbert also had 12 rebounds and scored two times off the offensive boards down the stretch in the close contest.
“The way he is playing is the Roy Hibbert that we saw last year,” the Pacers’ George Hill said. “He is finishing off and just being an all-star big man.”
Lance Stephenson had 20 points, Hill added 19, and David West finished with 14 and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, who shot 50 percent from the field against the Heat. Indiana also had 50 points in the paint compared with just 32 for Miami.
The Pacers won despite All-Star guard Paul George having his second straight off night. George shot just four of 10 and finished with 12 points on Tuesday after shooting three of 10 in Game 3.
The series now shifts to Miami for Game 5 today.
James fouled out for just the second time in the post-season in his All-Star career after finishing with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists on Tuesday.
Mario Chalmers had 20 points for the Heat, with 16 for Dwyane Wade, who had won 10 straight road games, including a one-sided Game 3 win at the same Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“We were all over the place and erratic,” said Miami’s Chris Bosh, who hobbled off to the locker room with a sprained right ankle halfway through the third quarter. “We just have to protect home court now.”
Bosh returned in the fourth, but managed just seven points in the contest. Miami had just a half-dozen turnovers, but shot a modest 39 percent from the floor.
“We pride ourselves on closing out games and we weren’t able to,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
“Our guys rose to the challenge. Our defense returned to form. We had a bad game [on Sunday] and we made adjustments,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said.
The winner of the Heat and Pacers series will face San Antonio in the finals after the Spurs wrapped up their Western Conference series in four games by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 93-86 on Monday.