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Saturday, May 26, 2012

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Too hot to handle: Heat guard Dwyane Wade attempts a layup as Pacers center Roy Hibbert defends during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Thursday in Indianapolis. AP

Wade torches Pacers to spark Heat victory

AP

INDIANAPOLIS — Miami's Big Two was more than enough to finish off the Indiana Pacers.

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James turned around a season on the brink with perhaps the most remarkable week of their high-powered partnership, capped off by a 105-93 victory in Game 6 Thursday night that sent the Heat back to the Eastern Conference finals.

Wade scored 41 points, James had 28, and Miami wrapped up the series 4-2, advancing to face either Boston or Philadelphia.

But this was about more than one game.

This was a dazzling trilogy, Wade and James taking control when the Heat were down and looked like they might be out.

"In the regular season, we've had some good games," Wade said. "But I don't know if we've ever had three in a row like that in the playoffs."

Seven days earlier, Miami trailed 2-1 in the series after getting routed 94-75 in Indianapolis. The fired-up Pacers had another game on their home court and a chance to build a commanding lead.

Instead, the Big Three-Turned-Two took over.

With Chris Bosh sidelined by an abdominal injury, James and Wade soared to new heights in their two-man game. Over the course of three dazzling games, James scored 98 points, grabbed 34 rebounds and dished out 24 assists. Wade had 99 points, 22 rebounds and 11 assists.

"Ever since Game 3, they've played at such a high level," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "I don't know if anybody can beat them."

The Heat rallied from an early 11-point deficit, riding the hot hand of Wade in the opening half. He scored 26 points by the break, tying Tim Hardaway's 16-year-old franchise record for most playoff points in the first two quarters. James hit consecutive baskets with just over a minute remaining to close it out.

"We understand that when Chris went out, we had to step up," Wade said afterward. "The team looked to us to lead."

Bosh hopes to return at some point, but it might not matter.

Not the way Wade and James are playing.

"Chris Bosh is an awesome basketball player, but when he goes down, that just means more touches for LeBron and Wade," Vogel said. "That's not exactly an advantage."

In a game of spurts, the decisive one came in the closing minutes of the third quarter.

The Pacers tied it at 66 on Darren Collison's 3-pointer, but it was all Heat the rest of the period. They closed on a 13-3 run, capped by Mario Chalmers' buzzer-beating 3 from the corner. Wade, who was on the bench getting his customary breather at the end of the quarter, leaped from his seat as the ball left Chalmers' hand at the far end, raced along the baseline and pumped his fist when it swished.



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