Using a late rally to narrowly beat a good team their last time
out, the Miami Heat feel like surviving that challenge will help
them in the long run.
They received no such test in either of their first two games
against the Indiana Pacers.
The Heat, seeking a 12th consecutive home win, try to build on
an encouraging victory and beat the Pacers for a fifth straight
time Saturday night.
After cruising to a 108-78 win over New Jersey on Tuesday to
avoid a three-game losing streak, the Heat (30-9) had some trouble
getting past Atlanta the following night. They were down 65-55 with
four minutes to go in the third quarter and still trailed with less
than two minutes left in the fourth, but Dwyane Wade put Miami up
for good with a 12-foot jumper en route to an 89-86 victory.
“We stuck with it until we eventually got the lead,” said Wade,
who started after sitting out the second half Tuesday with a sore
right ankle. “And we were able to hold on and get a good win.”
While Wade was held under 20 points for a season-high third
straight game but had nine rebounds with six assists, LeBron James
finished with 31 points and 11 boards for his fourth double-double
in five games.
The Heat, riding their longest home winning streak since a
14-game run from Jan. 22-March 16, 2007, had lost a couple of close
games to Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers in the past week. Their
previous 11 victories before Wednesday had all been by at least 12
“We needed one of these games,” said James, third in the league
in scoring at 27.7 per game. “It’s about time we had one of these
games where we had to fight for every minute, all the way down the
stretch. … It was good for us to close this game out.”
While the Heat used a late run to beat the Hawks, they
essentially had Indiana (23-14) beaten by halftime in the first two
Miami, playing without Wade, defeated the Pacers 118-83 on Jan.
4 behind James’ 33 points, then won 105-90 in Indiana on Feb. 14.
The Heat led by at least 35 points in each game and completely shut
down Danny Granger, limiting Indiana’s leading scorer to nine total
points on 3-of-17 shooting.
“We’ve just got to understand you’re going to have bad nights in
the NBA and we happened to have two bad nights the two times we
played Miami,” coach Frank Vogel told the Pacers’ official website.
“We know we’re a very good team right now. We’re trying to become a
great team and it starts with the challenges in front of us. We’ve
got to improve and we’ve got to put together a better basketball
game against Miami than we have the first two times. It’s that
The Heat have won four straight and eight of nine in this
series, but they haven’t been the only playoff contender to give
The Pacers lost 92-72 to Chicago on Monday and 101-96 to Atlanta
the following night in their past two games. They’ve dropped six
straight to teams with records currently over .500.
Those two defeats came after the Pacers had won six in a row
with all of the victories coming against sub-.500 teams, including
two apiece over the worst in each conference – New Orleans and
The Pacers are one of the league’s top rebounding teams at 43.9
per game, but they were outrebounded 105-69 by the Bulls and Hawks
“I don’t think we were ourselves the last two games,” Vogel
Against Atlanta, David West had a season-high 24 points on
10-of-13 shooting, but the rest of Indiana’s starters combined to
shoot 34.1 percent (14 of 41).