AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI (AP) -- LeBron James said a few words at halftime to try and coax something more out of the Miami Heat. Turns out, whatever he said was unnecessary.
The look on his face was all the Heat needed.
With a brilliant third quarter, James immeasurably changed not just Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, but quite possibly whatever's still left to decide in this series. James scored 16 of his 30 points in the decisive period, Udonis Haslem added 16 and the Heat pulled off a second-half rally to move one win away from the NBA Finals after beating the Indiana Pacers 90-79 on Thursday night.
"With LeBron, it's not what he says all the time," Haslem said. "It's just the look he gives."
And that look was back when the Heat needed it most, just like last year.
A year ago, the Heat lost Game 5 of the East finals at home to Boston, and needed a road win to extend the series and save what became a championship season. James scored 45 points in that win-or-else game against the Celtics, and the expression on his face -- a steely stare, chilling and emotionless -- is simply known around the Heat now as "The Look," immortalized by a larger-than-life photo on the wall leading to the team locker room.
This year, Game 6 of the East finals won't be accompanied by the potential for dire consequences. The Heat lead the series 3-2, with a chance to finish it off in Indiana on Saturday night and move on to a finals matchup with the San Antonio Spurs.
"That's what I came here for, to be able to compete for a championship each and every year," James said. "I'm one step away from doing it once again. It's not promised. It's not promised at all. I made a tough decision. Obviously, I think we all know the story. I envisioned something that was bigger as far as a team ... and we've got an opportunity as a team, once again, for the third year straight to make a trip to the NBA Finals."
Indiana was up 46-40 early in the third, surely sensing a chance to grab control of the series. Over the next 11 minutes, the Heat outscored the Pacers 30-10, with James either scoring or accounting for 25 Miami points. He shot 7 for 10 in the third quarter; the Pacers shot 3 for 14. He had four rebounds in the quarter; the Pacers, as a team, grabbed six. He had four assists in the quarter; the Pacers had one.
It was dominance.
"That's LeBron showing his greatness and making it look easy," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "What we talked about was doing whatever it takes and competing for each other without leaving anything out there. His engine in that third quarter was incredible. He was tireless, he was making plays on both ends of the court, rebounding, covering so much ground defensively and then making virtually every play for us offensively. It's really remarkable."
Mario Chalmers scored 12 and Dwyane Wade added 10 for the Heat, who ousted the Pacers in six games in a second-round matchup last season and will look to do the same this time around, albeit one round deeper.
Paul George had 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who got 22 points from Roy Hibbert and 17 from David West. The Pacers led by as many as seven at one point, but had no answer for the Heat in the third and now have to win back-to-back games -- against a team that hasn't lost consecutive games since early January -- if they're going to somehow win this East title.
"I don't really know," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said, when asked if there's anything a team can do when James gets on a roll like the one he had in the third quarter. "He was pretty special tonight. There's no question about it. This whole team is special. It's one of the best teams that this league's ever seen and we're enjoying competing against them. We know we can beat them, but we've got to play better than we did tonight."
Haslem said Juwan Howard threw a few things in the locker room and had a few choice words for teammates at halftime -- "a lot of bleeps and stuff like that," Haslem said -- and that James echoed the same remarks just before the start of the third.