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NBA: Pacers force Game 7 with big win, 91:77

NBA

The Pacers’ Roy Hibbert makes himself big to get in the way of any pass that Udonis Haslem would look to make.

For three quarters during Game 6 of the NBA Easter Conference Finals the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers played to a 62:62 tie, then there was the third 12 where the Pacers were able to put up 14 on their guests, with a 29:15 score. The bottom line was a 91:77 win for Indiana, bringing them even in their best-of-seven series with the Heat at three games apiece. Miami played Game 6 without the services of Chris Andersen, who was suspended by the NBA after an on-court incident from Game 5 where Andersen knocked Pacers’ forward Tyler Hansbrough down and then followed that with a hard shove. The incident resulted in technicals for both Andersen and Hansbrough, but as the instigator, Andersen got the penalty.

We have great respect for their culture; their togetherness; their teamwork; their ability to win the plays at the rim; their ability to win loose ball battles; their ability to just reach that level of greatness. We didn’t play our best basketball tonight and we were able to get a win. We’re going to have to play our best basketball to get a win down there in Game 7.
— Indiana coach Frank Vogel

The Pacers got 28 points from Paul George and 24 from Roy Hibbert, who also added 11 rebounds. The Heat got a game-high 29 from LeBron James. Indiana outshot Miami 37 of 74 (50.0%) to 26 of 72 (36.1%), they outrebounded the Heat 53-33, and they outscored their guests 44-22 in the paint. Hibbert has been a force in the paint the entire season and got a bit testy with the reporters after the game when asked about his 10th place finish in the player of the year vote. Hibbert went off on the reporter that asked the question and pointed out that those that vote don’t typically show up for Pacers games, so many of them hadn’t seen him play much prior to the vote. The exchange showed that the big fella’s on a mission to show anyone that cares that he’s out to prove he’s one of the best centers in the game. He’ll need some of that attitude in Miami on Monday when they suit up for Game 7.

Indiana’s trip to Game 7 is their first since they lost to Boston in 2005, but a win on Monday will send the Pacers back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2000.

The clubs fought through the end of the first to a Miami 21:23 lead. James scored 10 in the first for the Heat, George and Hibbert dropped in nine each for the Pacers.

After a James dunk to open the second, the Pacers’ Sam Young hit a triple, followed by a Hill three-ball and a layup. Lance Stephenson connected on a pair of singles to wrap up a 10:0 run that put Indiana up 31:25. Ray Allen sank a reverse lay-up, then Norris Cole hit back to back deuces to knot the score at 31. They traded baskets and the lead for the rest of the half with Miami up one, 39:40, at the break.

Hibbert and Dwayne Wade traded baskets, then Hill sank a long-ball and a floater, then West dropped in a jumper. Hibbert split a pair of free throws and than a lay-up and a dunk, giving Indiana a 12:0 run and a 53:42 lead. Wade knocked down a three-pointer, then George ran off seven straight, giving the Pacers a 60:45 advantage with four and a half minutes to play in the third 10. A Hibbert lay-up with 23.0 on the clock gave Indiana a 17-point lead, 68:71, but James connected on four free throws in the last 2.6 seconds to cut the margin to 13, 68:55.

With eight minutes to play West connected on a lay-up, then Miami’s Mike Miller sank a pair of triples to pull the Heat to within six, 70:64. Shortly after, James hit his 24th and 26th points to slice the lead to four, 72:68, with six minutes left. George countered with a long-ball, then West got his open rebound off a missed jumper and threw it home to get back up nine, 77:68. At the other end of the court James was trying to make things happen and took a hard drive to the basket, but was met by a straight up Hibbert, drawing a charging call. James didn’t like the whistle and sprinted to the other end of the court, prompting the officials to slap him with a technical and then added one for an assistant coach that they felt was out-of-line. Hill hit both free throws and Hibbert scored his 24th with a lay-up, pushing the lead back to 13, 81:68. From there out the Pacers held Miami at a distance, building a 15-point lead and holding on for a 91:77 win to send the series back to Miami for Game 7.

George led the way for Indiana with 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Hibbert added a 24P/11R double/double, Hill dropped in 16 and added 6 assists, and David West put together an 11P/14R performance in the win.

James’ 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists led the Heat in the loss. Wade and Chalmers added 10 apiece.

Game 7 will be played in Miami on Monday.

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