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Will Game 6 be a bounce-back for LeBron James?

MIAMI (AP) - There's one area where the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat agree.

LeBron James, they insist, will be better in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Everyone, it seems, is waiting to see what sort of bounce-back effort James brings in Game 6 of the East finals after struggling mightily in Game 5, spending long stretches as a spectator because of foul trouble. The series resumes Friday in Miami.

"The greats usually try to respond with a comeback-type of performance," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "So I think we can expect that."

Said Pacers star Paul George: "LeBron's going to be LeBron. ... Our hands are going to be full with LeBron. We know that."

Sounds like a safe assumption, since James' final stat line in Game 5 on Wednesday night - seven points, five fouls, two field goals, two air balls, one ear blown into by Indiana's Lance Stephenson - was one of the worst in his career.

His first shot of the night? An alley-oop dunk that got the Miami bench celebrating.

Everything else that happened in Game 5 give much cause for celebration.

Five of his remaining nine shots were short, another was a missed layup and he didn't take a single shot in the second and third quarters - the first time in his career that's happened.

Of course, it wasn't like he chose not to shoot: Fouls limited him to 4½ minutes in the middle two periods.

"It was frustrating last night, but I'm good now," James said Thursday after practice. "Yesterday is old news. Today is a new opportunity, and tomorrow is another opportunity to get better. So for me, I move on. That's why I'm able to stay who I am and be able to be better the next day."

By any measure, Game 5 will go down as a historically bad night for James.

-He played 24 minutes, the sixth-fewest of his 994-game career.

-He was whistled for five fouls faster than ever before in an NBA game.

-He shot 2 for 10, his worst performance from the field in more than six years.

-He had two rebounds, matching the second-worst showing in that category in his last 370 games.

-He scored seven points, tying for the fourth-fewest of his career, with the other entries on that list all coming during his first 15 months as a pro.

-He failed to reach double-digits in scoring for the first time since the 2011 NBA Finals, ending what was a 276-game stretch counting both the regular season and playoffs.

"You have to compartmentalize in a series, and it's all about the task at hand," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday. "Tomorrow, we can't even live in the past. That's why we came in today. And you can't think about the future. The only thing you think about is what we need to do to get tomorrow's game. No contest."

James showed little interest in discussing Game 5, either the game or the shenanigans within the game, most notably the moment when Stephenson - who has already talked about the Heat star's "weakness" when engaging with him during this series - blew into his left ear during a stoppage in play.

"I have a lot of respect for him," Stephenson said. "He's a great player. You've got to do whatever it takes to get under him and win the game because he's that good. So if I got to do all that stuff, I'm going to do that to win the game."

Stephenson was asked if he's worried he's giving James too much motivation. It's a fair point since there's some history there, such as James getting 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in a playoff game two years ago that immediately followed Stephenson making a choking sign to him following a missed free throw. And in this series, after the "weakness" line, James came out and scored 32 points in a Heat win.

"He should be motivated anyway," Stephenson said. "There's a lot on the line. Like I said, we're all motivated, and we're all trying to get one thing. We're all trying to win. So he's definitely motivated. He's motivated, and I know he's going to come out even stronger in his building. He's got his fans behind him."

A win on Friday (or Sunday, if necessary) would put Miami into the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year.

And Heat guard Dwyane Wade thinks that's all the motivation James will need in Game 6.

"I'm very excited," Wade said. "It wasn't ideal for us to have him play 24 minutes, but I do know that guy, and I know how he responds. So I'm good with it now. Now I'm good with it because I know he's going to come out and put his mark on the game, whichever way that may be, and that gives us the best opportunity to win."

Join the discussion

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tonysc24 May 30 2014 at 7:39 AM

Maybe he is getting his just due, for getting involved in the sterling case! What comes around, goes around!!!

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5 replies
jdrpa May 30 2014 at 9:54 AM

Watch Lebron bounce the Pacers back out of the playoffs. Again!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
merstockgto jdrpa May 30 2014 at 3:00 PM

Lets hope not.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
MeritaBread May 30 2014 at 11:20 AM

Can LeBron James bounce back? A resounding YES! There's nothing sweeter than a win at home. Eat your hearts out all you haters. That includes ALL you bitter Cleveland fanatics who are still holding on to your hate. The man has proved over and over again why he left Cleveland. It's past time that you just LET IT GO!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
jsuperbowl6 MeritaBread May 30 2014 at 1:28 PM

Yeah we all know why he left, because he couldnt do what Jordan did win 6 titles with one good player and a bunch of blue collar players. He had to have a team or trio of superstars to get it done!!! There is no comeback to this, or he would still be there. Its obvious and anyone who knows sports know this. Even Kobe did it with one good player in Shaq. and really the last one al he had was Gasol and Pippen was much better then him. What if Jordan said I think I will get with Magic and an equal to Bosh and formed a team, would have won 8 or 10. Thats what these guys did!!!

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dl0007 May 30 2014 at 11:13 AM

"The King" will never be Michael! There will NEVER be another Michael. However, It will be 7 years tomorrow he scored the Cavs last 25 points in an overtime win in Game 5 against the Pistons! That was the GREATEST performance I ever saw and that may never ever be matched again! Tonight, after the game, Indy will begin their summer vacation! "The King" is due for a triple double! LBJ all the way!

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mad_dawg_1 May 30 2014 at 10:56 AM

Dont worry james.

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2 replies
larry4cars mad_dawg_1 May 30 2014 at 2:14 PM

Um.... you mean like they did the PUSSERS last game. Obviously the NBA's mandated Heat loss the other night put Lebron on the bench moron!

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1 reply
drweaks1 larry4cars May 30 2014 at 4:35 PM

you are right cuz they want the close out game in south beach!!! don't you get it?? if you are a celebrity do want to see the heat in Indiana or south beach in a close out game??? get it now??

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loxhacker2622 mad_dawg_1 May 30 2014 at 9:59 PM

Like last game??

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eagle3636 May 30 2014 at 10:06 AM

finally LaFoul aka LaFlop called fairly for crashing into people, love it. If they do it again Pacers will be in finals as well they should be!

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2 replies
waagtod eagle3636 May 30 2014 at 11:14 AM

The Heat had their worst game in 3 months and the Pacers almost lost anyway. What have the Pacers done to prove they should even be in the conference finals much less the NBA finals? Not in the top 3 this year. And remember LeBron crying about the officials after the game like the Pacers? No, it didn't happen, because he isn't a whining Pacer!

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2 replies
jsuperbowl6 waagtod May 30 2014 at 1:32 PM

What has the Heat done??? beat a bunch of nobody teams in the weakest East Division I have ever seen. More teams under .500 then ever. WIth their superstar formed team they should be winning. It will just be that much more funny if they did loose. WOW next up, the aging Spurs ??

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merstockgto waagtod May 30 2014 at 3:02 PM

Does best record in the East ring a bell?

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reinajd eagle3636 May 30 2014 at 1:28 PM

Don't hold your breath

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hy8r1d May 30 2014 at 10:27 AM

Prediction. Lebron makes epic comeback and refs give the Heat all the calls in game 6. Pacers get in foul trouble. Heat win easily. Hope this is not true, but I can see it coming.

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bearmeans May 30 2014 at 2:26 PM

he gets away with to much he travels,walks andcharges the refs need to do there job !!

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dan_crabtree May 30 2014 at 11:06 AM

Quite simply the new professional wrestling in todays age is the NBA...enjoy suckers!!..hahahahhah...

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John May 30 2014 at 11:49 AM

Who's my Favorite Team? Any Team Playing the Heat!!!!

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3 replies
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