MIAMI — Facing a shorthanded opponent, the Miami Heat (5-3) struggled all night and lost 81-75 against the Indiana Pacers (3-6) in a nationally televised stinker Wednesday night.
Already missing starters Paul George and George Hill, the Pacers were also without C.J. Watson, Rodney Stuckey and David West due to a variety of injuries. Nevertheless, the visitors refused to get bullied around and held their own by owning the paint, winning the battle of the boards and limiting the Heat’s effectiveness from long range.
Chris Bosh got into early foul trouble and never hit his stride, failing to reach double digits in scoring for the first time this season with just nine points. One game after scoring 30, Luol Deng had just five points but led the team with seven rebounds. Dwyane Wade (20 points) and Shawne Williams (15 points) were the only Heat players to reach double figures. Norris Cole led Miami with seven assists and also contributed nine points.
The Heat were undone with poor foul shooting, stagnant offense with minimal movement and few answers for the Pacers’ simple but effective method of spreading the ball. Chris Copeland (17 points) and Donald Sloan (15 points) each made three 3-pointers and Roy Hibbert was a force inside with 16 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra must focus on how the team can overcome a poor shooting night from his team, especially with Bosh ineffective, to pull out victories, and he will surely implore his team to pound the glass more or there will be more head-scratching defeats like this in store for them.
THE TURNING POINT
Indiana failed to score though a five-minute stretch during the final quarter, but Miami was scoreless for the final 95 seconds of the game after Wade made a 3-pointer to tie the game at 75.