Heat escape in final moments, top Pacers 89-87
MIAMI — Luol Deng has been dealing with a nasty illness for a few days. Dwyane Wade missed the shootaround with another bout of bad headaches, which he’s battled for years.
And the Miami Heat fell apart in the second half yet again.
Only this time, they still went home feeling healthy and happy.
Deng scored 23 points, Chris Bosh added 19 and the Heat survived another struggle at home, hanging on to top the Indiana Pacers 89-87 on Friday night.
"We’re lucky they ran out of time," Deng said. "First half we were great. Second half they were great. It was two completely different halves."
Wade scored 13 for Miami, which led by 20 late in the third quarter before Indiana ripped off an 11-0 run and kept the pressure on all the way to the final second.
Indiana would get within a point on two occasions in the final minutes, and had a shot to win or tie on the game’s final possession — but C.J. Watson’s open 20-footer from the right corner rimmed out at the buzzer.
"The way this season has went for us, I don’t care if we won by 20 or we won by a point or half a point," said Wade, whose team improved to a mere 8-13 at home. "We got a win."
Luis Scola scored 14 points, George Hill and Watson each scored 13 and David West had 12 for the Pacers, who dropped their seventh straight.
"Lot of heart, lot of fight," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We battled back in a game down 21 to give ourselves a chance to tie it up. Very proud of the group that did that."
Indiana was within 77-72 not long before Deng made a pair of 3-pointers midway through the fourth, the second of them pushing Miami’s lead to 10.
The Pacers kept coming.
"What changed in the second half is coming out with some sense of urgency, with some sense of direction and played the Indiana basketball we’ve normally played the past couple of years," Hill said.
West scored with 2:55 left to get Indiana within four, Hill connected on a jumper while Wade was fouling Ian Mahinmi, and that free throw — which Mahinmi banked in — cut Miami’s edge to 86-83.
But Miami, which led by 10 in the first quarter, 17 at halftime and as many as 21 at one point, never ceded the lead in the final three quarters. Indiana led for only 27 seconds, all in the opening minutes.
"We got a bounce at the end," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Pacers: Indiana fell to 6-21 in games where it trails after one quarter, and failed to shoot at least 50 percent for its ninth straight road game. … The Pacers have now had separate losing streaks of six, seven and eight games this season. … Indiana leads the season series 2-1 and plays host to Miami on April 5.
Heat: Miami’s 54-37 halftime lead was its largest of the season. … Miss Universe Gabriela Isler, who will relinquish her crown in Miami on Sunday, was in attendance. … C Hassan Whiteside (sprained ankle) warmed up and was active, but did not play. … C Chris Andersen finished with 13 rebounds, a season-high.
HILL BACK, MILES HURT
The Pacers got Hill — who had missed all but five of the team’s first 44 games this season with knee and groin injuries — back for the first time since Dec. 31. But Indiana lost guard CJ Miles in the first quarter with a sore left groin, after he scored eight points in the game’s first seven minutes.
THIRD QUARTER WOES
Miami was outscored 27-21 in the third quarter, adding to the team’s baffling post-halftime trend. The Heat are 4-16-1 at home in third quarters this season, 10-29-4 overall.
Pacers: At Orlando on Sunday.
Heat: At Chicago on Sunday.