NBA: James helps Heat avoid Game 1 upset

By Associated Press  • 
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Pedro PortAL | El Nuevo Herald
LeBron James drives past the Pacers’ Paul George to hit the winning shot as time expired in overtime, giving the Heat a victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

MIAMI — LeBron James made a layup as time expired in overtime and the Miami Heat found a way to defeat the Indiana Pacers 103-102 in a wild Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals last night.

James finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists — his ninth postseason triple-double, and barely anyone noticed. All that mattered was the last shot, which saved the Heat.

Paul George made three free throws with 2.2 seconds left in overtime to give the Pacers the lead.

But James, with Indiana shot-blocking center Roy Hibbert curiously on the bench, drove down the left side of the lane while being guarded by George, scored with ease, and the Heat escaped. Game 2 is on Friday in Miami.

Officials reviewed James’ play at the end, though it was clear he beat the clock, and the Pacers walked slowly toward their locker room, lamenting one that got away.

George was fouled by Dwyane Wade on the play that the Pacers had to think they had stolen the series opener.

George saved the Pacers in regulation by making a 32-foot three-pointer with seven-tenths of a second left that tied the score, and tried a shot from a similar distance as time was expiring in the extra session.

Referee Jason Phillips said Wade hit George, and George made all three free throws to give Indiana a 102-101 lead, the 16th lead change of the game.

The final lead change came moments later, and Miami overcame a game that had 18 ties and which neither team led by more than seven points.

Wade finished with 19 points, Chris Bosh 17 and Chris Andersen 16 for Miami. George scored 27 for the Pacers, who got 26 from David West and 19 from Hibbert. The Pacers have won only two series in franchise history after dropping a Game 1.

The final few seconds of regulation were stunning, with Miami’s Ray Allen — the sixth-best free-throw shooter in NBA history — missing one that proved big, and George making a miracle happen.

Trailing by two with 17.7 seconds left, the Pacers had to foul Allen. But he missed 1 of 2 free throws, and it remained a one-possession game. Indiana brought the ball into the frontcourt, called a timeout, and then seemed to have nothing working as the final seconds of regulation ticked away. So George made something happen. He hit from 32 feet to tie the score and give Indiana life.

Allen didn’t get much of a shot off at the end of regulation, and to overtime the teams went.

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