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James' overtime heroics lift Heat over Pacers in Game 1 of NBA Eastern finals

LeBron James scored 30 points Wednesday evening, including the final two in overtime, to lead Miami over Indiana.

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Miami Heat's LeBron James (c.) drives through the defense of Indiana Pacers' Paul George (l.) and David West on his way to making the game-winning lay-up in overtime during Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Conference final basketball playoff in Miami, Florida May 22, 2013.

Joe Skipper/REUTERS

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LeBron James drove the lane for an uncontested layup with just over two seconds remaining in overtime Wednesday night, leading the Miami Heat to a 103-102 win over the Indiana Pacers in a highly-entertaining Game 1 of the NBA's Eastern Conference finals.

James had his ninth career playoff triple-double, scoring 30 points with 10 assists and 10 rebounds. But curiously, he was merely an afterthought for much the game’s 53 minutes. What truly resonated were the crucial performances of some lesser-known players at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena.

This was a very physical contest from the start, with James uncharacteristically getting whistled twice with personal fouls in the first quarter, after which he would sit through the remainder of the second quarter. In his place, Chris “Birdman” Andersen came in and was instrumental in keeping the Heat to within seven points at the half. He finished with 16 points on the night on 7-of-7 shooting from the field to go with three important blocks that resulted in transition points. On one such play, he blocked a shot under the hoop and scored the transition dunk himself.

Miami as a whole got five players in double figures, including, in addition to James and Andersen, Chris Bosh (17 points), Dwyane Wade (19, to go with 6 rebounds and 5 assists), and Mario Chalmers, who had 10 points, including two three-pointers.

Seemingly from the start, Indiana dictated the pace of the game – keeping it at a slow, half-court tempo. For the season, they gave up a miserly 90 points a game (2nd in the NBA only to Memphis), and never permitted the Heat to get their transition game going effectively. 58 personal fouls and 40 turnovers (20 each) were compiled by the two teams. Players were flying into the stands, over one another, and were rolling on the floor on what seemed like every possession.

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