MIAMI – LeBron James contributed 32 points and 10 rebounds, Chris Bosh added 25 points and the Miami Heat moved one victory from a return trip to the NBA Finals by beating the Indiana Pacers 102-90 on Monday night.
Dwyane Wade scored 15 points for the Heat, which has won three of the first four games in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals. Two-time defending league champion Miami can win the East for a fourth straight season with a victory at Indiana on Wednesday night.
The Heat never trailed, opening as much as a 23-point lead in the final quarter.
Paul George scored 23 points and David West added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, who got 15 points from George Hill. But Lance Stephenson was held to nine and Roy Hibbert was scoreless in 22 minutes for Indiana.
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The Pacers won two elimination games in the first round against Atlanta, and need to win three more if their yearlong plan of topping Miami as kings of the East is going to become reality.
When holding a 3-1 lead, the Heat is 8-0 in Game 5s over the past four postseasons.
Much as he did Sunday, Indiana coach Frank Vogel used the big brother-little brother analogy with his team, trying any way to urge the Pacers to break through against the team that has ended their season in each of the past two years.
“He’s got to make a decision at some point in his life, that no matter what, we’re not going to lose this fight anymore,” said Vogel, likening the Pacers to the little brother in that scenario. “We’re at that point.”
The fight isn’t over. But it was awfully one-sided for long stretches of Game 4.
“You can never get too high, you can never get too low in the postseason,” James said. “You’ve got to stay even-keeled. You got to try to get better every single day, every single game improve.
“When you do that and you go out and play the type of game that you’re capable of playing, you can be satisfied with the results and that’s what we’ve built over the years.”
Miami outscored Indiana 31-20 in the third quarter and increased the lead to 23 in the fourth before the Pacers used a 15-3 run to make things somewhat interesting. They later cut the Heat’s lead to nine. But James’ three-point play with 1:22 left closed out scoring.
Miami was without Chris Andersen, inactive because of a bruised left thigh. The Heat tweaked its starting lineup, with former Sonic Rashard Lewis in and Udonis Haslem out.
Lewis was scoreless and missed five shots, all three-point attempts.
Bosh, limited to nine points in each of the first three games of the series, scored the first eight points of Game 4 in less than two minutes. He was 7 of 12 from the field.
“I told him he was going to have a great game,” James said. “We got off to a fast start because of him.”
Indiana didn’t give up.
“We got outplayed by the Heat,” Vogel said. “I wasn’t disappointed in our fight. I was disappointed in the result.”