This game was all about the two teams’ star small forwards, but for completely opposite reasons. The bigger story was was LeBron James’ foul trouble. James was called for a few questionable fouls early, picking up two early in the first quarter. He then picked up his third and fourth fouls in the second quarter. Foul number five, easily the most controversial, came fewer than four minutes into the third quarter when he and Lance Stephenson collided after Stephenson’s steal attempt.
James just couldn’t get into a rhythm. His offensive aggression took a step backwards, as he didn’t want to foul out. His shots weren’t falling either. He finished with a career playoff low of seven points on 2-10 shooting in 24 minutes of play.
On the contrary, Paul had a field day in James’ absence. Without the stress of having to check James every play, George’s legs were fresh after halftime. He scored 31 of his 37 points in the second half, 21 of which came in the fourth quarter. George hit jumper after jumper to kept his team ahead and received the star treatment on a toss up call with 16.0 seconds left when he and Shane Battier fought for a loose ball that traveled out of bounds.
Miami still had a few chances to close in and take the game, thanks to Rashard Lewis’ six three pointers, and a few Indiana missed free throws in the clutch, but the Pacers were able to hold on at home. Friday’s Game 6 will be back in Miami. Can Miami close it out or will we see a Game 7?