MIAMI — Without Chris Bosh for the first time in the NBA play-offs, championship favourites Miami suddenly looked vulnerable as they fell to an upset 78-75 defeat to the Indiana Pacers that left their Eastern Conference semifinal series tied at 1-1.
Bosh has been ruled him out "indefinitely" after picking up an abdominal strain in Game One on Sunday and questions are being asked about how effective the Heat can be without one of their key components.
Bosh averaged 18 points and 7.9 rebounds during the regular season. He missed nine games during the season and the Heat were just 4-5 without him.
With the Heat holding a 38-33 lead at halftime, however, there was little indication of the turnaround that was to put last year's runners-up in trouble. Indiana dominated the third quarter, outscoring Miami 28-14 and grabbing a nine-point advantage heading into the fourth.
With Bosh on the sidelines it was left to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to carry the Heat. The duo came up with 21 of Miami's 23 fourth-quarter points but James missed two free throws and Wade came up short with Miami three down and less than 10 seconds on the clock.
Miami failed to score in the final two minutes and 41 seconds of the game and their last chance to tie the score ended with Mario Chalmers' three-point effort hit the rim.
David West top scored for the Pacers with 16 points but was quick to put the victory in context. "We have nothing to celebrate yet, we have just won one game in the series," he told TNT television.
The series moves to Indianapolis for Game Three today and West said the Pacers needed to show the same qualities.
"We have to remain aggressive, play team ball and put pressure on them to beat them." James led Miami with 28 points and nine rebounds and Wade put up 24 points and made six rebounds.
Elsewhere, Tim Duncan had 26 points with 10 rebounds, Argentine ace Manu Ginobili scored 22, and the well-rested San Antonio Spurs beat the visiting Los Angeles Clippers 108-92 in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series.
Top-seeded San Antonio showed little signs of an eight-day lay-off following a 4-0 first-round sweep of the Utah Jazz. The Spurs fired in a franchise play-off record 13 three-pointers and used a game-breaking 26-11 third quarter run to open up a 19-point cushion en route to their 15th straight victory dating back to the regular
season. — Reuters