The Miami Heat were being cut down to size, their championship visions nearly extinguished, the deficit in double digits.
LeBron James would have none of it.
Neither would Dwyane Wade.
In a stunning display of the power of two, James and Wade essentially self-willed the Heat back to life in the second half of what turned into a 101-93 victory Sunday over the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
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“You get the ball out of one of those guy’s hands and it gets to the other guy’s,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of his tag-team midday nightmare. “It’s not like one superhero and a bunch of role guys.”
No, it was two superheroes and a role guy, in Heat power forward Udonis Haslem, who played to his past championship pedigree.
Instead of being down 3-1 in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series, a place where scant few have recovered, the Heat return for Tuesday’s Game 5 at AmericanAirlines Arena tied 2-2, homecourt advantage regained.
“We wanted to redeem ourselves,” James said, the Heat having dropped the previous two games.
“Beautiful basketball,” Wade said.
For a while there in the third quarter, it was simply stunning.
And it left the Pacers simply stunned.
“In the third quarter, it was just too much,” Pacers forward Danny Granger said.
Based on how the previous two games had gone, and to a degree even where things stood at halftime, it was difficult to say which performance was more impressive:
James: 40 points, 18 rebounds, nine assists, two blocked shots, two steals.
Wade: 30 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two blocked shots, one steal.
“Both of those guys knew they had to be actively involved,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James had 19 points at the intermission, when the Heat trailed 54-46. He was keeping them afloat.
Wade, by contrast, had opened 1 of 8, rekindling fears of a follow-up to his 2-of-13 performance in the Heat’s Game 3 loss.
But then the two did something they had not done much in this series, or to be honest, all that often in their two years as a dual-wing threat: