MIAMI - LeBron James promised rest. Never came.
MVP is not important, not after he and the Miami Heat struck the first blow against the Indiana Pacers.
James receives MVP trophy from commissioner David Stern third before the game, then scored 26 of his game-high 32 points while playing every second of the second half - add a season high 15 rebounds and the Heat survived a rough stretch to beat Pacers 95-86 on Sunday in Game 1 Eastern Conference semifinal series from them.
"I just looked straight into his eyes and said, 'You can not flat-out tired, period," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And he made the MVP plays at both ends of the court."
Dwyane Wade scored 29 points for the Heat, who won the match but lost to Chris prank for the second half and maybe. Prank scored 13 points before leaving at the end of the first half because of lower abdominal injury, the team said he was scheduled for an MRI exam to determine the severity.
"Hopefully (Monday) we get good news," said Wade. "We all just want to make sure that Chris is healthy. So that everything we know today. Our brother will go (Monday) to see if he can get out there and play with us. If not, then we have someone going too big. You can fill the shoes Chris Bosh, but you can have some people go. So we'll see. "
David West and Roy Hibbert each scored 17 points and combined for 23 rebounds for the Pacers, who got 10 points each from Darren Collison and George Hill. Indiana controlled the first half and stretched by the Trail no more than two points at any time until the fourth quarter, when it outscored by 25-16.
Indiana shot 50 percent in the first half, 30 percent in the second.
"We started getting defensive stops," said James. "We started to get things rolling."
Game 2 is Tuesday in Miami.
"We apologize, not just here to play. We are here to win, "said Hibbert. "We have to win Game 2 and come back stronger."
Playing under the stars, James and Wade picked up their game after the break fit. They combined for 42 points in the third quarter and fourth, four more than the entire list of Indiana. Pacers scored 16 in the fourth, and with James that much alone.
"We're definitely going to let this go," said George Paul Indiana. "Looks like we should win this one. All this room knows we need this game. "
All is not certain until the last moment. Create a 3-pointer of the hill with 4:51 left, taking in Indiana within 86-85. But the Pacers answered their final nine shots of the game, James has a dunk in transition to make it 90-85 with 4:10 left, and jumper with 31.8 seconds left to wrap Heat victory.
"It was a battle and we know, apart from being home, being away, we play, what the circle, it is difficult to win in the playoffs and you have to fight for every single property,"; Spoelstra said. "And that's what it is."
From his seat a few rows above the court, it feels like Stern knows what will happen long before that.
Stern was on hand to present James with the MVP trophy in a pregame ceremony. Then, in a television interview in the game, Stern told ABC that James only "warm up" in three MVP, a total of only seven other players is reached.
"He's a good player," said Stern. "He's so strong and so powerful and so determined when he decided to take over the game, he is a rare spectacle."