Despite a roaring fourth quarter comeback by the Pacers, the Miami Heat were able to hold on in crunch time, topping the Pacers 114-106 on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
It looked as if the Pacers (21-20) would be the team to knock the Heat — one of the hottest teams in the East — off their stride when Lance Stephenson shook his defender and delivered a game-tying jumper with minutes remaining in the game.
But the Heat (24-17), led by an impressive performance by 20-point night from Goran Dragic, were able to execute down the stretch, converting on a number of tough plays in the game's final moments.
"(Miami) hit some tough shots," said Victor Oladipo after the game. "They've been hitting tough shots every win, the last three or four wins, down to the wire, and they executed again. Credit them, they did a great job."
With Miami leading by three and under 30 seconds remaining, sharpshooter Wayne Ellington attempted a three. The shot looked wide initially, rattling around the rim, but it ended up falling, putting Miami up 109-103 with 23.2 seconds remaining.
From there, the Pacers fouled to try to mount a final comeback, but Miami was able to hold off the charge, withstanding a fourth quarter in which the Pacers seemed to be on their way to yet another comeback win.
Moments earlier, Lance Stephenson streaked down the court in a blur, delivering a no-look pass right into the hands of Cory Joseph, who converted the layup.
As the bucket fell, the home crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse erupted, with Stephenson dancing along the sidelines and imploring fans to join in on the fun during the electrifying run.
Stephenson's flashy play was only the precursor to his next big moment of his 15-point, eight-rebound night, when he shook his defender on the wing and cashed a jumper to tie the game at 97 — the game's first tie since the first quarter.
With the game knotted, the Heat responded with one of their many timely buckets of the night, as Tyler Johnson connected on a triple put Miami back in front. Moments later, a jumper from the top of the key by Ellington triggered a Pacers timeout, as the hosts trailed 102-99 with 3:28 in the game.
Leading by three, the Heat used buckets from Hassan Whiteside and Dragic to bolster their lead, as Ellington's backbreaking 3-pointer soon followed, effectively ending the Pacers' shot at a victory.
Indiana was without starting center Myles Turner, who was ruled out for tonight's matchup and Friday's game against the Cavs with a sore right elbow.
The game started off with the teams trading buckets, but following a free throw from Oladipo to tie the game at 11, the Heat's offense caught fire. Miami broke off a 10-2 run, which included two 3-pointers from Heat small forward Josh Richardson as Pacers head coach Nate McMillan signaled for timeout with 6:11 remaining in the opening quarter. Even after the timeout, however, Miami's quick start continued, as the Heat closed out the first quarter leading the Pacers 38-26.
"I think we started the game with tough, contested, quick shots, which led us to a big first quarter for them. Quick shots, turnovers, a couple of blocks and it was off to the races; and they have a 38-point first quarter and once again we're playing from behind, giving up another 30-point-plus quarter," said McMillan. "We ended up winning every quarter after that, but overall we didn't have the ball movement that we normally have."
In the second quarter, Indiana's bench unit began to rally the Pacers back into the game. After a floater from Heat forward Bam Adebayo, the Pacers reeled off six unanswered points, the last of which triggered a Heat timeout with the score at a 42-36 Miami lead.
After the Heat's timeout, the game turned back in favor of the visitors, as the Heat used three consecutive buckets from Hassan Whiteside and a breakaway layup from Tyler Johnson to execute an 8-0 run, putting the Heat up by 14 with 6:19 remaining in the half.
Although the Pacers were able to make a brief run, Miami held on to its double-digit advantage, taking a 58-47 lead into the halftime locker room.
As the second half began, Indiana began to chip away at the deficit. Oladipo barreling into the lane and converting a circus and-one shot turned out to be the start of a roaring 11-0 Pacers rally, as Indiana cut the score to a 65-63 Heat lead, bringing the home crowd to its first standing ovation of the night.
While trimming the deficit to as little as just one point when Al Jefferson hooked one in, the Pacers were unable to take the lead in the third quarter as Miami used a late barrage of 3-pointers to reestablish its advantage, leading 84-78 entering the final 12 minutes. The Heat had the stroke from long range all night, going 13-of-30 (43.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Pacers quickly found themselves in trouble to start the fourth, as six unanswered Heat points dropped the Pacers behind 90-80. Seeing his team fall behind, McMillan subbed back in his leading scorer in Oladipo, who quickly went to work in a bid to erase the Heat lead.
With Oladipo and Stephenson leading the charge, Indiana stormed back into the game, bringing the crowd to its feet again with another top-speed layup in transition from Oladipo. The bucket trimmed the deficit to just three with 7:19 remaining, setting up the close finish at The Fieldhouse.
As a team, the Pacers had their worst game of the season from long range, connecting on just 1-of-18 3-point attempts. On offense, the Pacers were led by another impressive performance from Oladipo, who racked up 26 points and seven rebounds in the loss.
"We just have to keep shooting the ball with confidence," Oladipo said. "Us as a team, we just have to keep shooting with confidence. We have great shooters but there will be nights like this. We still could have won the game. It was a tough loss, though."
Inside the Numbers
Despite their poor shooting from deep, the Pacers still shot 50 percent from the field.
Indiana struggled at the free throw line, making 19-of-29 shots from the charity stripe.
The Pacers outscored Miami 72-40 in the paint, including a 38-16 advantage in the second half.
You Can Quote Me On That
"Tonight, we were missing Myles and we're definitely a much better team when we have everybody in uniform. Our guys have shown they have some potential, but we have a lot of growth that we have to continue to see – making plays and really learning to win in situations like tonight." -Pacers head coach Nate McMillan
"No matter how much you play pick-up, run on the treadmill, it's a totally different ballgame in there live. I knew the first game was going to be about trying to get my legs under me and my rhythm going but actually it was better than I thought it was going to be." -Al Jefferson on reentering the rotation
"I looked at the box score and I thought Oladipo had 50, that's what it felt like. You know we tried every scheme against him. We tried normal coverage, we tried different defenders, we tried trapping him, we tried zone defense. He was just slicing and dicing right to the rim, even against our best rim protectors. So again, it wasn't the perfect blueprint for us, but this league ultimately is just about competing and finding a way, and our guys were able to gut it out." -Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra
- Miami snapped a 10-game regular season road losing streak at Indiana as the Heat earned their first regular season road win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse since Feb. 14, 2012
- The Heat victory gives Miami a 2-1 series edge this season, with the final matchup between the two teams coming at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 25
- Heat center Hassan Whiteside led the game with 15 rebounds
Stat of the Night
Indiana's 13 team assists tied a season low, set during its October 25 road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Pacers host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for their final game of a four-game homestand. The action tips off at 7 PM ET Secure Your Seats Now »