- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2012


MIAMI | On the plane ride home from Indiana, Miami guard Dwyane Wade was watching a LeBron James highlight tape. It was otherwise known as Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Heat still were marveling Monday at James’ effort the previous day in Indiana, when the NBA’s reigning MVP totaled 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in a 101-93 win to help his team knot its Eastern semifinal series with the Pacers at two games apiece. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Miami, and the Heat probably know they can’t expect a repeat performance from James.

After all, no one had done that in a playoff game since Elgin Baylor, 51 years ago.

But if nothing else, the home-court advantage is back with the Heat, who trailed by 10 points in the third quarter Sunday before the game - and maybe the series - swung Miami’s way, with James doing the conducting.

The Pacers lost by 35 in Miami in January and have been outscored by a total of eight points in three games there since.

“We’re ready to go,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We still have a great deal of belief. They haven’t beaten our best.”

The Heat could say the same thing, after losing Games 2 and 3 without Chris Bosh, who is still rehabbing his strained abdominal muscle and will miss his fourth straight game Tuesday, with no return in sight.

Magic dismiss Van Gundy

ORLANDO, FLA. | The Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy and split with general manager Otis Smith on Monday, the culmination of a season in which Orlando was ensnared in a long-running soap opera with Dwight Howard and made another first-round playoff exit.

“It’s time for new leadership and new voices,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a statement. “The disappointment of getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs these past two seasons played a primary role in our decision.”

Smith and Van Gundy’s problematic relationship with Howard weighed down the team all season after the All-Star center requested a trade.

Orlando went 37-29 in the regular season but was eliminated in five games by Indiana after a rash of late-season injuries that included back surgery for Howard. Orlando went 5-12 without him.

Van Gundy coached the Magic for five seasons. He finished with a 259-135 record, going 31-28 in the playoffs.

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