MIAMI — After playing their most complete game of the young season in a victory at Dallas on Sunday, the Miami Heat played their worst game from start to finish in an anemic 81-75 loss to the visiting Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
The Heat couldn’t get much going offensively, shooting 42.6 percent from the field and a perplexing 44.4 percent on free throws. Much like in their past clashes against the Pacers, they were outrebounded 53-28 thanks to the efforts of big men Roy Hibbert (15 rebounds) and Solomon Hill (10).
The Heat led by one at halftime and tied the game at 75 with 1:26 left, but they went scoreless the rest of the way and ended up with their lowest point total at home since a Feb. 27, 2010 loss to the Bucks.
"I can’t say that we should have had this one, because we didn’t play well," said Chris Bosh, who had nine points on 3-of-13 shooting. "We missed free throws, didn’t move the ball and we just didn’t play a good game. We didn’t play good enough to win. We can’t do that and then expect to dig ourselves out of a hole. We’re not that good. We have to play a full game."
Despite all the missteps they had taken, the Heat had a shot at the victory after Dwyane Wade’s tying three. But Hibbert smothered a dunk attempt by Luol Deng and Bosh airballed a 3-pointer that represented the final chances for the Heat to retake the lead in crunch time.
"You always give a team credit; they had something to do with it," said Wade, who led the team with 20 points. "But at the same time, we got away from what we’ve been doing the last few games. You don’t want to lose games, especially at home, but it’s a part of it for this team. We have to have moments like this to understand what works for us and what doesn’t work for us."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra lamented the lost opportunities to get a victory even if the team was struggling throughout.
"These are those type of games that you really would like to see your team find a way to grind it out, where you’re not necessarily in a great rhythm," he said. "It’s a defensive game, it’s a grind-out game, and you’d like to find a way to win ugly in the end."
Bosh had scored at least 20 points in each of the first seven games and the team looked lost without its most reliable scorer leading the way. At times, Bosh forced the issue instead of letting the game come naturally to him. The ball stuck at times as he tried to bounce back from a poor start in which he had to sit down with two fouls just minutes into the game. The end result was Bosh never finding a good rhythm, and the team suffered.
"You’re supposed to not force it, and we started forcing it," Bosh said. "That’s one of the most difficult parts of the game, is that when it’s not going your way, to play the way you’re supposed to and continue to move the ball, keep making that extra pass. We failed to do that tonight. It got stuck on one side, we didn’t move from side to side and against this team, you’re going to have to get seven, eight, nine or 10 passes in one possession. You need to get a good look."
Though Bosh was disappointed with the end result, he remained hopeful that this will be a learning experience.
"It’s OK, we’re going to learn from our mistakes," he said. "This is a bad one right after a good one. We’re a young team, so we have to really regroup from that, look at everything, not have much emotion about it and figure it out."