Heat forward LeBron James committed two turnovers in the final minute of Game 2 in the Eastern Conference finals, sealing Miami's 97-93 loss to the Pacers on Friday night.
"The first thing I always look at on the stat sheet is my turnovers," James told reporters after Indiana evened the Eastern Conference finals at one game apiece. "I had two big ones. Very disappointed in my judgment and my plays down the stretch but I'll make up for it."
With roughly 45 seconds remaining in the game and the Pacers leading 95-93, James attempted to swing a pass to Ray Allen from the right angle to the left angle. David West put up both of his arms, with his back turned to James, and deflected the ball into the open court with his right hand.
After Indiana was unable to capitalize on that possession, James ran the clock down to roughly 15 seconds before attacking the paint to his right from the top of the key. Shadowed by Paul George, James picked up his dribble as he approached the right block, and pivoted back toward the middle, where West was coming across the paint to provide a double-team. James attempted to fire a crosscourt pass to Allen, who was again waiting at the left angle, but West again deflected the pass and George Hill came up with the ball, forcing Miami to foul.
West was credited with a steal on the first turnover while Hill received the steal on the second.
"The right word to describe David West's performance tonight and most of his time here in Indiana is 'will'," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "He has incredible, incredible will to do anything it takes to win a basketball game. I'm glad he's on our side."
The turnover-heavy final sequence marred what was an exciting game in which James finished with a game-high 36 points, eight rebounds and four assists while Pacers center Roy Hibbert tallied a team-high 29 points and 10 rebounds.
"[This game] wasn't about LeBron making mistakes down the stretch," Vogel said. "He played one of the best basketball games I've ever seen anybody play."
After delivering a game-winner in overtime in Game 1, James was clearly frustrated with his five turnovers, a game-high, and the fact that Miami was unable to go up 2-0 in a hard-fought series. "That can't happen in that situation, especially being down two in a big game at home," he said, referring to both turnovers as "careless."
In Game 1, Hibbert was not in the game on the final possession as the Pacers elected to go smaller to match-up with Chris Bosh. In Game 2, Vogel elected to keep Hibbert in the game, guarding Bosh. While he didn't play much part in James' first turnover, Hibbert did discourage James' drive on the second play, while still putting himself in a position to defend Bosh, who was roaming on the perimeter.
"Paul did a good job of keeping [James] in front," Hibbert said of Indiana's late-game defense. We shrunk the lane, we just said we're not going to give him any shots and luckily David was able to get his hand on some passes. ... The fact is, [West] was guarding Ray Allen and he was able to move his feet, stay in front of Ray and not give him anything easy. ... David manned up, sacked up and did what he had to do."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he had no regrets about the final sequence, which capped off an 8-2 run for the Pacers in the game's final 3:05. "It happens," he said of the two turnovers. "They made two good defensive plays with deflections. I'd run that again. If I had the opportunity again, so would [James]. You have to give them credit for active hands. ... those are the breaks of the game. ... We pride ourselves on finishing, particularly when we have leads. We just weren't able to do it tonight."