MIAMI – LeBron James, who earned his third league MVP award Saturday (Sunday), finished with a game-high 32 points as star-studded Miami defeated Indiana 95-86 to take the opening game of their second round playoff series.
James, the game's best player, has won the MVP award three out of the last four years and is chasing his first ever NBA championship.
James also had 15 rebounds and five assists and guard Dwyane Wade had 29 points and four assists, while Chris Bosh added 13 points for the Heat, who also won three of four regular season games over the Pacers.
Forward David West and center Roy Hibbert scored 17 points each for the much-improved Pacers, who finished off Orlando in five games Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
Heat forward Bosh suffered a lower abdominal strain shortly before halftime at AmericanAirlines Arena and did not return.
Game two of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) in Miami.
Paul powers Clippers into semis
MEMPHIS – Chris Paul finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists as the Los Angeles Clippers eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies 82-72 in game seven of their Western Conference playoff Sunday (Monday, PHL time).
It was the first game seven win in the club's 42-year history and just their third ever playoff series win.
The Clippers advance to face the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the second round, beginning on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) in Texas.
Los Angeles got a brilliant performance from their bench players down the stretch. The reserves scored 25 of their 27 fourth-quarter points as Kenyon Martin, Mo Williams and Nick Young combined for 33 points and 12 rebounds.
Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol scored 19 points apiece for the Grizzlies who missed all 13 of their three-point shots. Mike Conley shot a disappointing 2-of-13 from the field and the team managed to shoot a combined 32.5 percent (25-of-77).
Los Angeles led by one point at the half, 39-38, after going on an 11-2 spurt halfway through the second quarter.
Memphis had a big run of their own in the first half by closing out the second quarter with a 15-6 offensive attack.
The Grizzlies had a chance to cut the deficit in the final two minutes when OJ Mayo stole the ball from Paul and raced down the court. But his layup missed and the Clippers regained possession of the ball.
The Clippers sank all six of their free throws in the final minute to seal the win. (AFP)