NBA: LeBron James unflappable amid ear-blowing, fouls, loss

3:15 a.m. EDT May 29, 2014 INDIANAPOLIS — LeBron James has played 152 NBA playoff games but never one like Game 5. He spent nearly as much time on the bench (23 minutes, 39 seconds) as he did in the game (24:21), plagued by foul trouble that forced him to sit for a majority of the first three quarters.

James scored a playoff career-low seven points, played a playoff career-low in minutes and had his second-worst playoff shooting performance (20% on 10 shots) as the Indiana Pacers cut his Miami Heat's Eastern Conference finals lead to 3-2 with a 93-90 victory Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

One aspect of the game had a familiar air, though. For the second time in two postseasons, Lance Stephenson blew in James' ear. Yes. blew in his ear.

As much as he tries to avoid it, James converges again with the Pacers shooting guard in a story line that will dominate the news cycles until Game 6 is played Friday in Miami (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

"I'm just here to play basketball, man. All the extracurricular activities, I don't really get into," James said, exasperated by Stephenson's antics.

James' foul trouble and his decision to pass the ball one on of the game's final plays also will play heavily in the news cycle because it's rare for James to get into foul trouble and talking heads love to criticism the four-time NBA MVP for passing with the game on the line.

During the regular season, James fouled out just once and had just two games with five fouls. In 152 playoff games, he has fouled out just twice and collected five fouls nine time.

"It's definitely something I'm not accustomed to, but my teammates kept it going and put us in a position to win," James said. "That's all we can ask for."

If James was unhappy about the officiating, he didn't say so, unlike Paul George who complained about calls after Indiana's Game 4 loss and accrued a $25,000 fine from the NBA for public criticism of the officials.

"It sucks for me because I'm not able to make plays to help our team win," James said. "I made a couple in the fourth, but 24 minutes is not enough for me to make an imprint on the game like I know I'm accustomed to doing or I know I can do."

James almost made enough plays for the victory. He hit a three-pointer and assisted on another during a stretch in which the Heat made five consecutive threes and cut the Pacers' lead to 92-90 with 13.6 seconds left.

The Heat had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. James caught the in-bound pass and drove the basket. George and 7-2 Pacers center Roy Hibbert collapsed on James, who threw it to Chris Bosh for a three in the corner, but the All-Star center missed.

"I was able to get into the paint, drew two and saw CB in the corner in his sweet spot," James said. "Thought we got a pretty good look. You live with the result."

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