With 5.1 seconds left in the third, George drove the lane and finished a highlight-reel dunk over Miami's Chris Andersen while getting fouled, the free throw putting the Pacers up by five. James connected on a long 3-pointer to close the quarter, then he and George exchanged a few words afterward and slapped each other's hand as if to say, "here we go."
Sure enough, the show was just getting started.
"We had our chance tonight," Bosh said.
Hibbert was creating one problem after another for Miami, so James took it upon himself to challenge him in the fourth. And with about 8 minutes left, he swatted a putback attempt away from the 7-foot-2 Indiana center, starting a play that ended with Chalmers scoring at the other end to give Miami an 85-84 lead.
On the next possession, James tied up a rebound with Hibbert, then won the ensuing jump ball. Not long afterward, Bosh made a 3-pointer and Miami's lead was up to 88-84 its biggest of the night.
"We just didn't finish the game like we're capable of," Spoelstra said.
Indiana scored the next five points to reclaim the lead. James' three-point play with 3:32 left put the Heat on top 91-89, and Hibbert answered that with a jump hook over the reigning MVP to tie the game for the 10th time.
Frantic to the finish, again. And this time it went Indiana's way.
"Heck of a basketball game, wasn't it?" Vogel asked afterward.
If there was any remaining lament from losing Game 1 on the final play of overtime, the Pacers didn't show it. They trailed for all of 15 seconds in the first half, and after neither team held a lead of more than seven in the series opener, Indiana found itself leading by 10 late in the first quarter and by 13 with a minute to go before intermission.
Hibbert was either unguarded or unguardable, making six of his eight shots in the first two quarters and getting to the line on the way to a 19-point half. West, Hill and George combined for 27 more before the break, and when Hibbert scored with 1:25 left the Pacers' lead was 53-40.
The Heat needed less than a minute to erase more than half of that deficit.
James made a pair of free throws with 59.1 seconds left, Chalmers had a layup and Mike Miller who hadn't taken a shot since May 8, but checked in with 3:23 remaining in the half after Allen and Shane Battier continued to struggle from the outside connected on a 3-pointer as time expired, pulling Miami within 53-47 at the break.
And when Indiana went up nine early in the third quarter, Miami responded with another burst, this time an 11-2 run highlighted by a spectacular reverse dunk by James and capped by two baskets from Wade, the last of which knotted the game at 60-all.
By then, it was clear.
Just like Game 1, this one wouldn't be decided until the end.
NOTES: South Florida resident Jozy Altidore of the U.S. men's national soccer team was among those in attendance, two days before he's set to report to Cleveland and begin training camp for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Other celebs in the crowd included newly retired football star and Miami Hurricanes great Ray Lewis, Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and Rosie O'Donnell. ... The Pacers were called for four technicals (one a defensive 3-second) in a 4-minute span of the second quarter. ... Indiana reserve Sam Young sprained his left ankle in the third quarter. ... Indiana was not planning to fly home after the game, instead staying in Miami one more night and avoiding getting back to Indianapolis around 4 a.m. or even later.
- AP source: Irving, Barnes finish US Olympic...
- Federer out to turn around frustrating season...
- With 1-0 loss to Colombia, US finishes 4th in...
- Ipsen, Hixon get Olympic 3-meter spots,...
- National champion Sam Mikulak leads US men's...
- Past few days 'difficult' for former...
- Defending champ Serena Williams at Wimbledon...
- Chile wins 2nd straight Copa America title as...
- Never on Sunday: BYU won't compete on... 168
- Kalani Sitake on BYU-Utah rivalry: 'I... 74
- Sitake not intimidated by BYU's arduous... 59
- Dick Harmon: 1996 Cotton Bowl champion... 47
- Morning Links: BYU basketball fans... 43
- Morning links: Colin Cowherd compares... 34
- Utah Jazz plan to be 'active' during... 24
- Sitake making transition from longtime... 20