The Indiana Pacers missed three of their last four free throws, but still found a way to hang on to beat the Miami Heat on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 84-83.
In a potential preview of the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami had a chance to win the game with two seconds remaining after George Hill missed two free throws in the final seconds. The Heat would go to Chris Bosh for the final shot, but his jumper from just inside the arc wasn’t close.
The victory means the Pacers have two less losses and four more wins than the defending champions, who have 12 games remaining. Should the Pacers hang on in their final 10 games, they will have the all-important No. 1 seed in the East, which would guarantee them home court advantage in the conference playoffs.
Both teams struggled on offense, particularly in the second half. The Pacers shot just 37 percent from the field, while the Heat turned the ball over 18 times. In about the final four minutes, Miami converted just one shot.
LeBron James led all scorers with 38 points. The Heat star was 11-for-19 from the field and converted 14 of his 15 free-throw attempts. Dwyane Wade returned to the lineup after missing the last two games, and made six of his 11 field-goal attempts for 15 points, but also turned the ball over six times.
Paul George, who has suffered through shooting slumps in March, led the Pacers with 23 points. The 23-year-old also had eight rebounds to go along with four assists and three steals. George also threw down two monster dunks.
"This is a huge game for us,” said George. “This is the champions we beat. It’s one game, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Center Roy Hibbert scored 21 points, and guard Lance Stephenson added 15 for Indiana. Stephenson was ejected after a pair of technical fouls, including one in which he taunted Wade.