NBA: Pacers down Heat to force Game 7 in Eastern Conference Finals series

INDIANAPOLIS (AFP) - The Indiana Pacers exploded in the second half en route to a 91-77 victory over Miami on Saturday to force a deciding seventh game in their National Basketball Association Eastern Conference Finals series.

Paul George led the Pacers with 28 points, Roy Hibbert added 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Indiana held off the reigning NBA champions in the fourth quarter to stay alive in the series at 3-3.

The Pacers still face a tough task if they want to deny the Heat a return to the NBA Finals, with Miami having the luxury of hosting Game 7 on Monday.

The winners of the series will face Western Conference champions San Antonio in the NBA Championship series starting on Thursday.

The Spurs will be well-rested against either opponent, thanks to their four-game sweep of Memphis in the Western Conference Finals.

The Pacers led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter. Miami whittled the deficit to four midway through the fourth and were down 68-77 when Heat superstar LeBron James drove to the rim guarded by Hibbert.

James double-clutched, but Hibbert rose straight up to defend the basket, drawing an offensive foul from James, who hit him with an elbow.

James and Heat assistant coach David Fizdale both received technical fouls in the wake of the play. George Hill made both free throws for Indiana to stretch the lead back to 11, and Miami never got within double digits from there.

Just as the Heat used a strong third quarter to win Game 5, the Pacers - trailing by one at half-time - came out firing in the third.

They opened the second half with a 14-3 scoring run, highlighted by Hibbert's drive past Miami centre Joel Anthony for a one-handed dunk.

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