By TIM REYNOLDS, Associated Press
MIAMI (AP) — On the plane ride home from Indiana, Miami guard Dwyane Wade was watching a LeBron James highlight tape. It was otherwise known as Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Heat were still marveling Monday at James' effort the previous day in Indiana, when the NBA's reigning MVP had 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists — "video game-like," was how Wade described it — to help his team knot its East series with the Pacers at two games apiece. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Miami, and the Heat know they probably can't expect James to fill the box score that way again anytime soon.
After all, no one had done that in a playoff game since Elgin Baylor, 51 years ago.
But if nothing else, the home-court advantage is back with the Heat, who trailed by 10 points in the third quarter Sunday before the game — and maybe the series — swung Miami's way, with James doing the conducting.
"You know what, I've played in this league for nine years and I've seen some amazing things," Wade said. "But I've never really played with a guy where I'm amazed at some of the things he can do. I'm used to kind of not being the one being in awe sometimes. Some of the things he does, I'm like, 'How did he just do that?'"
Those things James did Sunday — he played 44 minutes and grabbed nine rebounds in the fourth quarter alone, matching what anyone else on the floor did in the entirety of Game 4 — took a toll. As James finished shooting free throws on the Heat practice court Monday, he looked toward assistant coach Bob McAdoo and yawned. He walked around slowly. Then he yawned again.
So, LeBron, how were you feeling after Game 4?
"I don't have any," James deadpanned. "It's definitely going to be a recovery and mental day for me."
It was pretty much the same thinking Monday in Indianapolis, where the Pacers spent time before their flight to Miami lamenting that they wasted a chance to take command of the series, but at the same time finding some solace in the fact that they have already won once on the Heat home floor in these playoffs.
The Pacers lost by 35 in Miami in January, and have been outscored by a total of eight points in three games there since.
"We're ready to go," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We still have a great deal of belief. They haven't beaten our best."
The Heat could say the same thing, after losing Games 2 and 3 without Chris Bosh, who is still rehabbing his strained abdominal muscle and will miss his fourth straight game Tuesday, with no return yet in sight. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said it's "too early to tell" if Bosh could return later in this series.
But clearly, the Pacers saw the MVP's best on Sunday.
James and Wade scored 38 consecutive Miami points in one stretch. A series with plenty of bravado to that point — Indiana's Danny Granger has gotten technicals in three straight games, Pacers reserve Lance Stephenson riled the Heat by making choking signs that were captured by television cameras in Game 3 and Heat forward Juwan Howard approached Stephenson before Game 4 to let him know Miami didn't appreciate the gesture — was taken over by a star.
Wade finished with 30 points and nine rebounds, a huge bounce-back effort after his disaster of a Game 3. Udonis Haslem scored 14 points and needed only six field-goal attempts to get there, then needed nine stitches to close a gash over his right eye.
Big games for both. Next to James' line, they were practically afterthoughts. James scored or assisted on 62 of Miami's 101 points.
"We had two days to prepare," Howard said. "We had an opportunity to watch a lot of film and see some things as a team that we did wrong, what we could do to do better. Then I'm sure (James and Wade) had a chance to look at it individually ... but you give us two days to prepare, two days to rest our bodies, then I'm not surprised by their performance."
The Pacers did their part to help Miami's comeback on Sunday.
Roy Hibbert finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, but the 7-foot-2 center also was slowed by foul trouble, as was forward David West. That, and Indiana's defense slipped at the absolute worst time: The Pacers entered Sunday having allowed only nine 30-point games all season, but by day's end, that list had 11 entries with James and Wade both getting there.