The current MVP battled a potential future MVP on Friday in game two of the Eastern Conference finals, as LeBron James and Paul George dueled to the end for a second straight playoff game.
This time, George and the Pacers came out on top, as James briefly reverted to the James of old in the playoffs down the stretch by turning the ball over when trying to look for teammates instead of his own shot as the Pacers defeated Miami 97-93 at Miami to even the series. Unlike at the end of the game one, Pacers center Roy Hibbert was in the game this time, perhaps leading James to hesitate before going into the paint.
James took George to the hole for a game-winning lay-up at the end of game one, but George stopped James and forced a turnover in the final seconds of game two to give the Pacers the upset they just missed Wednesday.
In the final seconds of the third quarter, George turned the tables and drove past James near the key, elevating to dunk over Chris Andersen, who went for a block. He hit the free throw to make it 76-71 with five seconds to play in the third quarter.
James answered immediately with a long three-pointer at the end of the third quarter to make it 76-74. In a classic moment, James and George turned to slap hands before going to their benches for the fourth quarter.
James then opened the fourth quarter by driving to the hoop and then hitting another long three to finally put the Heat ahead 79-78 en route to another incredible game (36 points).
However, after a David West free throw tied it, it was George who put a move on James that sent the MVP falling backward as George drained a 17-footer to put the Pacers back up 81-79 with 10:03 to play. George’s 25-foot three pointer on the next trip made it 84-81 Pacers, and they would not drop this game.
With the score tied 91-91, George got big man and martial arts expert David West back in the game with a great pass for a 12-footer to give the Pacers the lead.
From that point, West was dominant on defense. He stole a James pass with his back turned with less than a minute left, and then again when George stopped James drive to the basket in the closing seconds to wrap up the 97-93 win.
The Pacers now get to go back to Indianapolis with a 1-1 tie.