It clanked off the back of the rim.
AmericanAirlines Arena went silent. Scared.
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James shot the second free throw. It, too, clanked off the back of the rim.
Indiana would take those gifts. It had missed some free throws of its own, too. But it also would take the Heat’s Dwyane Wade pivoting down the lane a few seconds later, shaking the Pacers defense and moving in alone for the kind of lay-up he’s made a thousand times in his career.
It hit the bottom of the rim.
“I just missed it,” Wade said.
It was one thing for a tough Indiana team to out-tough the Heat to take Game 2 of this playoff series, 78-75. But to do so this way? With LeBron striking up the chorus against him for his missed free throws and Wade missing an open lay-up?
It mattered that Mario Chalmers missed a final, open 3-point shot at the end that could’ve tied it. But that was more than expected. The Heat is shooting one-of-22 for the series from the 3-point line.
“Obviously, we’re not shooting the ball well,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
This brings us to the question of the series: How did the Heat do without Chris Bosh?
Answer No. 1: Not too well.
Answer No. 2: Better buckle up.
The Heat didn’t score in the final two minutes, 41 seconds. You won’t win that way. But with no Bosh there’s no relief for Wade and James. They scored 26 of the Heat’s final 29 points.
No other Heat player scored more than Mario Chalmers or Shane Battier, each with five points. The support-less cast shot 9-of-34. And judging by recent weeks, can anyone expect it to change from here?
Then there’s Indiana. Give the Pacers their deserved credit. They could have folded in the second quarter when they were shooting 23 percent, when they didn’t have a foul shot for 17 minutes, when a five-point Heat lead at half looked fine.