Heat Check: LeBron James not enough for Miami to hold off Indiana rally
The Miami Heat spent the middle two periods Wednesday night making a strong statement at rival Indiana, only to be undone by a poor fourth quarter.
The Heat committed seven turnovers and hit just 4 of 13 shots in the final quarter and dropped an 84-83 decision to the Pacers in a physical game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Indiana scored eight straight points to take an 84-80 lead with 50 seconds left.
LeBron James had 38 points and eight rebounds for the Heat (48-22), who fell three games behind conference-leading Indiana (52-20). Miami has two games at hand on the Pacers, who will visit AmericanAirlines Arena on April 11 for the teams’ final regular-season meeting.
Miami outscored Indiana 51-40 during the second and third quarters but missed 8 of 29 free throws overall and shot 31.6 percent (6 of 19) from 3-point range.
Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, just five in the second half, and was on the bench for the final 1:59 with an apparent leg injury.
Chris Bosh, who missed a shot just before the final buzzer, hit only 3 of 11 shots and finished with eight points.
Miami played without key sub Ray Allen, who was left bend due to flu-like symptoms. Forwards Shane Battier and Michael Beasley also did not play.
The Heat got key contributions from reserves Chris Andersen, Rashard Lewis and Udonis Haslem — four rebounds each. Haslem helped limit Pacers center Roy Hibbert to eight points after the first quarter.
Paul George scored 23 points to lead four double-figure scoring Pacers.
Indiana began the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run to go ahead 76-72 with 5:01 to go. Lance Stephenson’s basket culminated the spurt, but the Pacers star then left the game after receiving his second technical, for taunting Wade.
Miami scored eight connective points to go up 80-76 with 3:23 showing, but Indiana answered with eight in row.
James earned a Flagrant I foul when he drove the lane and hit Hibbert with an elbow to the face. At the time, Miami led 72-69 with 8:47 left in the fourth.
The Heat scored 10 straight points to fuel a 15-5 run at the end of the third quarter to build a 68-63 advantage. Lewis and Norris Cole each sank a 3-pointer in the period-ending spurt.
Miami finished the second quarter with a 15-4 run to lead 45-44 at halftime. James had 20 first-half points, including 10 of 10 from the foul line.
Indiana led 23-17 after the first quarter, in which Hibbert had 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting. James scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting.
THE TURNING POINT
David West’s 3-pointer with 50 seconds left to give Indiana an 84-80 advantage.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
West had 13 points — including that key trey — with 9 rebounds, five assists and defended Bosh well.
STAT OF THE GAME
Miami had 19 turnovers (26 points), including 7 turnovers during the final 12 minutes.
The Heat will play the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills 7:30 p.m. Friday.