This was not the script, couldn't have been the script. Not with Dwyane Wade not scoring his second basket until midway through the fourth quarter, not with LeBron James not converting his first free throw until late in the fourth. But with James taking control of the script in the third quarter, the latest chapter of the Heat's Big Three experience is down to this: They now are one victory from their third consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals. Moving to a 3-2 lead in these best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals with Thursday's 90-79 victory over the Indiana Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat now can close out the series Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. With Wade and center Chris Bosh off, combining for a meager 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting, James turned the Heat's Big Three into the ultimate one, when he scored 16 of his 30 points in the third quarter, personally outscoring the Pacers by three in the period. "That's LeBron showing his greatness and making it look easy," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "What talked about was just doing whatever it takes and competing for each other without leaving anything out there. His engine in that third quarter was incredible. He was tireless. He was making plays on both ends of the court, rebounding, covering so much ground defensively, and then making virtually every play for us offensively. "It's really remarkable and a testament to his conditioning and obviously his greatness, his ability to make big plays when you need it." Pacers coach Frank Vogel agreed. "He was pretty special tonight," he said. With power forward Udonis Haslem sparking the Heat's 30-13 third-quarter first with an emphatic dunk and then three consecutive baseline jumpers, the Heat overcame what actually proved to be a big-three effort from the Pacers, who got 27 points from small forward Paul George, 22 from center Roy Hibbert, 17 form power forward David West, and precious little else. James, who added eight rebounds and six assists, by contrast, got solid supporting efforts from Haslem and point guard Mario Chalmers. Haslem closed with 16 points, praised as much by Spoelstra for his defensive effort. "We've seen it so many times," Spoelstra said. "You take this all the way back to our other  championship run; the deeper you went, the more of an impact he had. "But he really set the physical tone for us defensively, taking the challenge. And in the third quarter, he was everywhere, on traps, covering ground, covering up for our guys, helping out, charges, rebounds. He was tireless, as well."
LeBron James, Heat dump Pacers 90-79 to go up 3-2
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | May 31