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Late rally lifts Heat over Pacers

LeBron James of the Miami Heat, pictured during their NBA game against the Indiana Pacers, at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, on December 18, 2013
LeBron James of the Miami Heat, pictured during their NBA game against the Indiana Pacers, at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, on December 18, 2013

NBA champions Miami made it clear they won't concede Eastern Conference supremacy to the Indiana Pacers without a fight.

LeBron James and the Heat on Wednesday outscored the Pacers 12-2 in the final three minutes to rally for a 97-94 victory in a duel between the East's top two teams.

Ray Allen drained a go-ahead three-pointer with 59.5 seconds left to play as the Heat finally got some long-range shots to fall when it mattered.

The Heat, who came into the contest shooting 38.6 percent from three-point range, missed their first nine from beyond the arc before connecting on five of their last 12 attempts.

The Heat trailed by as many as 15 in the third, but Chris Bosh's three-pointer knotted the score at 92-92 and Allen's trey with just under a minute to play put Miami up 95-92. It was their first lead since the first quarter, and they wouldn't trail again.

Two free throws by Indiana's David West trimmed the deficit to 95-94 with 44.4 seconds to play, and Chris Anderson missed on Miami's next possession.

Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat lays the ball up to the basket, at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, on December 18, 2013
Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat lays the ball up to the basket, at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, on December 18, 2013

The Pacers had the ball, but George Hill's poor pass intended for Paul George was grabbed by James and after a Pacers foul, Allen added two free throws for Miami.

George was off-target with a three-pointer that would have tied it up with four seconds remaining.

Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 32 points, James, playing on a sore left ankle, added 24 and Bosh chipped in 15.

Miami downed the Pacers in an epic seven-game Eastern Conference finals battle last season en route to a second straight NBA crown.

Last week, the Pacers, who lead the Eastern Conference with a record of 20-5, used a late surge to down the Heat in Indianapolis, and James acknowledged that despite the fact it's still relatively early in the season, the game had a playoff intensity.

"We want to protect home court," said James, whose Heat improved to 19-6. "They protected their home court last week."

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