Pacers 94, Heat 83
Jeff Foster was tired of answering questions about how the undersized Miami Heat was beating the Indiana Pacers on the boards. So he did something about it.
Foster had career highs of 20 points and 16 rebounds on Saturday night to lead the Pacers to a 94-83 win over the Heat and a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal.
"He led this team," Indiana all-star Jermaine O'Neal said. "A lot of energy and a lot of big plays."
O'Neal added 22 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who used a dominating third quarter to get rid of the pesky Heat.
Miami came into the game holding a 23-rebound advantage over the bigger, burlier Pacers. Indiana finally flexed its muscle in Game 5. The Pacers out-rebounded Miami, 47-30. Foster had seven offensive rebounds, as many as the entire Heat team.
"Jeff Foster was fabulous and that's what happens when a guy brings a phenomenal, phenomenal effort," Heat Coach Stan Van Gundy said.
Game 6 is Tuesday in Miami, where the Heat has won 18 straight games, including two convincing victories over the Pacers that evened the series.
As has been the case all postseason, the Heat looked like a completely different team on the road.
After shooting 51.4 percent in Game 4 and playing with boundless energy in both games in Miami, the Heat was overwhelmed in its sixth straight road loss in the playoffs.
Lamar Odom had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, but was far from the force he was at home. He missed seven of his first eight shots and was a non-factor for most of the night.
Dwyane Wade, who tormented the Pacers with dribble penetration for most of the series, finished with 16 points and 10 assists. This time, however, the Pacers clamped down on the rookie and made it much more difficult for him to get into the lane.
The Pacers took a five-point lead into halftime, then put the game away with a spectacular third quarter.
O'Neal had nine points and five rebounds and Foster chipped in eight points and three rebounds in the period. The Pacers shot 80 percent and held Miami to 31.6 percent shooting to take a 73-55 lead into the final period.
O'Neal and Foster fueled a 20-6 run to start the period, during which Indiana outscored Miami 29-16.
When Jamaal Tinsley drove the lane and passed to Ron Artest for a layup and a 15-point lead, O'Neal pumped his fist furiously and Tinsley let out an exuberant scream that brought the crowd of 18,345 at Conseco Fieldhouse to a deafening roar.
Foster got his career high in points with two free throws late in the fourth quarter as the capacity crowd chanted "Foster! Foster!"
Artest overcame a slow start to get 14 points and six assists for Indiana.
Miami had six players score in double figures, but it wasn't nearly enough to compete with Foster, O'Neal and the Pacers, who shot 51.4 percent.
Foster had eight points and five rebounds in the first quarter while O'Neal sat on the bench with two early fouls. The 6-foot-11 center was a big reason the Pacers outscored the Heat 42-26 in the lane and 20-4 in second-chance points.
The Pacers have never lost a playoff series after winning the first two games.