INDIANAPOLIS — Roy Hibbert had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Lance Stephenson added 20 points, and the Indiana Pacers charged back late to beat the Miami Heat 99-92 on Tuesday night and tie the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2.
LeBron James led the Heat with 24 points before fouling out with 56 seconds to go. Mario Chalmers had 20 points on a night the defending NBA champs failed to take command of the series.
The Heat will host Game 5 on Thursday.
“We’re not going anywhere. We’re going back down to Miami to go out there and fight again,” Hibbert said.
The Pacers started fast and spent the rest of the night trying to fend off Miami’s continual comebacks.
But with Indiana leading 81-72 early in the fourth, Miami answered with a 14-2 run that gave the Heat an 86-83 lead.
Indiana tied the score on Paul George’s three-point play and erased the Miami lead by closing the game on a 16-6 run.
Indiana was in desperation mode — and it showed.
Bodies crashed to the ground all night. An angry George uncharacteristically smacked the floor after being called for a foul in the third quarter, leading to a technical foul on coach Frank Vogel. And the defence did a far better job against James and his high-scoring teammates. James finished 8 of 18 from the field.
But the Pacers did not get rattled.
Instead, they answered every challenge Miami posed as they had in the first two games of this series.
When Miami used a 9-0 run to take a 60-54 lead early in the third quarter, Indiana answered immediately with a 10-0 run to regain the lead. When James committed an offensive foul with 2 seconds left in the third quarter, his first turnover since the end of Game 2, the Pacers got a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Stephenson to make it 77-70.
Even as the Heat rallied in the fourth, charging back from an 81-72 deficit to take an 86-83 lead, the Pacers answered. George tied the score on a three-point play on which James committed his fourth foul.
Ray Allen broke the tie with a 3 from the left wing, but after corralling rebound after rebound, Indiana went on a 7-0 run to retake the lead and Miami never tied it again.
This was not the same Miami team that dominated Indiana in Game 3. Nor was it the same Pacers defence that got overrun by James and his teammates two nights earlier.
Miami struggled to score early, Dwyane Wade was limping noticeably in the first half and forward Chris Bosh hurt his right knee in the first half and his right ankle in the second. The Big Three combined to go just 14 of 39 from the field.
Indiana, meanwhile, reverted to its more traditional style. The Pacers had a 49-30 rebounding advantage and outscored Miami in the paint 50-32.