The Heat’s grind-it-out series with the Pacers got a little easier Tuesday night. Miami coasted to a 115-83 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 second-round series. The Heat can close out the series Thursday with a victory in Indianapolis.
LeBron James dominated once again, and Dwyane Wade looked as fresh as ever in what turned out to be a statement game for the Heat after a series of hard fouls. It all started with Wade facedown on the court in the second quarter.
Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough sent Wade to the ground with a dirty foul with 10:23 left in the quarter. A replay revealed that Hansbrough raked his fingernails across Wade’s eyes, drawing blood above Wade’s right eyebrow.
Hansbrough’s claw work marked the second game in a row the Pacers have bloodied a Heat player. In Game 4, Pacers reserve Lou Amundson gashed Udonis Haslem in the head with an elbow. The cut required stitches.
Apparently, Haslem had seen enough.
Less than a minute after Hansbrough’s flagrant foul on Wade, Haslem went after Hansbrough with a shot to the face. Hansbrough was in the act of shooting but Haslem worried little about trying to block the shot. Instead, he crushed Hansbrough with both arms.
Hansbrough’s head snapped back as he went to the ground. Haslem was whistled for a flagrant 1. From there, the Heat outscored the Pacers 83-58.
James led the Heat with 30 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He has missed back-to-back triple-doubles by a combined three assists. James left the game with 4:19 remaining and received a standing ovation from the crowd. James’ early exit triggered the arena’s customary seat cover toss. White seat covers rained down from the upper deck as James lifted his hand to the crowd to acknowledge the applause.
James has scored 70 points to go along with 26 rebounds and 17 assists in his past two games.