LeBron James scored 22 points to help the defending champion Miami Heat beat host Indiana 114-96. The Heat leads the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals 2-1.
INDIANAPOLIS — LeBron James scored 22 points and the Miami Heat rediscovered its offensive punch, routing the Indiana Pacers 114-96 Sunday night to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
“I made a conscious effort to get down in the post tonight, to put pressure on their defense,” the 6-foot-8 James said. “The coaching staff wanted me to be down there tonight, and my teammates allowed me to do that.”
James got plenty of help as the Heat reclaimed the home-court advantage it lost two nights earlier. Dwyane Wade had 18 points and Udonis Haslem added 17.
James’ post prowess helped Miami outscore the Pacers 56-32 in the paint.
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David West led Indiana with 21 points, and Roy Hibbert had 20 points and 17 rebounds. The Pacers lost for the first time at home in the playoffs this season, dropping to 6-1.
Game 4 is Tuesday in Indianapolis.
Miami led 70-56 at halftime — its biggest lead in the series. Indiana didn’t get closer than seven the rest of the way.
It was a rare letdown from one of the league’s top defensive teams.
Miami shot 54.5 percent from the field, was 24 of 28 from the free-throw line, matched its highest-scoring quarter of the playoffs this season (34) in the first, surpassed the franchise’s postseason scoring record for a half with 70 points and tied a franchise playoff record with a mere one first-half turnover.
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