LeBron James grabbed a seat on Miami’s bench, lowered his head and stared down at the floor.
The Heat are in a hole.
Roy Hibbert had 19 points and 18 rebounds, George Hill scored 20 and Danny Granger 17 as the Pacers, showing more balance, toughness and togetherness than favored Miami, throttled the malfunctioning Heat 94-75 on Thursday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Overlooked during the regular season and given little chance to upset the reigning East champions, the Pacers took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Game 4 is Sunday at raucous Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
James scored 22 — 16 in the first half before wearing down — and Mario Chalmers added 25 for Miami. However, Dwyane Wade, banged up and possibly slowed by a more serious injury, scored only 5 on 2-of-13 shooting for the Heat, already missing forward Chris Bosh because of a strained abdominal muscle and not expected to return for this series.
“It’s obvious he wasn’t himself.” James said of Wade. “Does he want to play better? Of course. He’s one of the best players in the world.”
Wade didn’t play like one and he also had an angry exchange during a timeout in the third quarter with coach Erik Spoelstra, who dismissed it as a heat-of-battle incident. (See incident above).
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