Heat recover to take 2-1 lead over Pacers in East final

Sun May 25, 2014 1:02am EDT
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By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - The Miami Heat took a 2-1 lead over the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals after coming back from 15 points down in the second quarter to win 99-87 on Saturday.

Miami's habit of making a slow start was particularly acute - they trailed 17-4 in the first quarter and were 37-22 behind midway through the second as the Pacers made them pay for some loose turnovers.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra shuffled his pack however and Miami came out strong in the third quarter though and took the lead for the first time on the night with a LeBron James dunk putting them 52-51 up with 7:36 left in the quarter.

The game turned decisively in Miami's direction when Wade made a superb steal and set up a three-pointer from Ray Allen and put the Heat eight points ahead.

Allen (16 points) had three other three-pointers in the final quarter for the Heat while James made 26 points and Dwyane Wade 23.

While James and Wade top-scored, James was quick to praise the contribution of some of Miami's less heralded players.

Norris Cole brought energy and aggression to defense and was able to provide some penetration on offense while Rashard Lewis provided some valuable work to frustrate the Pacers' offense.

"Those guys off the bench they did it for us, they’ve got the game ball for sure," said James, who was annoyed with the team's first quarter.   Continued...

May 24, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) leans into Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports