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Pacers final score: Pacers hold off Heat late for 99-91 win

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Indiana played hot and cold, holding off Miami let for the home win. Tyreke Evans led the bench with 23 points. Domantas Sabonis had 15 and 12 rebounds.

NBA: Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

After a four-day layoff, the Indiana Pacers returned to action, defeating the Miami Heat at home. The Pacers certainly didn’t make it easy on themselves, with a night full of hot and cold stretches leaving the door open for timely Miami shooting. The Heat got the best of Indiana early, jumping ahead 27-15, holding them to just 30% shooting.

The Pacers failed to buck their trend of poor starts, but there were some positives even as shots continuously clanked off the rim. Myles Turner was a big factor early in keeping the game within reach. He would score eight in the opening quarter, including hitting a three. The latter is significant as Indiana should be stepping out on their shooting in general, but especially with Turner in helping to keep bigs honest defensively.

Elsewhere, the Pacers struggled to hold on to the ball, granting the Heat seven extra points in the quarter. Fortunately, the second unit would step in and completely flip the script on the game, turning a 12-point deficit into a 12-point lead. They outscored the Heat 26-5 to open the second as part of a 29-5 run.

The shots that didn’t fall for the starters did for the second unit, who rained in six threes in the run, kickstarted by Tyreke Evans, who had three in the stretch. Evans would be the go-to for Indiana, leading the way with a season high 23 points, pulling in 10 rebounds, finishing with five threes and a perfect 6-6 from the line.

Evans worked well with Cory Joseph in the run. Joseph scored seven of his 12 there, including dishing two of his five assists on threes by Evans and Doug McDermott. However, even as the offensive heated up, it was the defense that played a big part in helping the Pacers reverse the score so effortlessly.

The Pacers forced five turnovers in that run, as part of 18 on the night, outscoring the Heat 22-19 in points off turnovers despite losing the turnover battle. Part of that came from incredibly opportunistic live ball opportunities. The Pacers were excellent in finding the passing lanes and forcing turnovers or deflections. That would be a key fallback for them as the game shifted back in Miami’s favor to close the half.

If Indiana were opportunistic defensively, it was the Heat who were opportunistic from three point range. While the Pacers effectively helped to close the Heat out of the interior, they did a poor job rotating on the three point shooters. Miami’s passing around the arc creating problems for the Pacers, allowing the Heat to climb back in the game, cutting the lead to just three a minute into the third quarter.

For the first time all game, the Pacers’ starters responded in a positive manner, with Bojan Bogadnovic and Darren Collison hitting a pair of threes to help push the lead back to eight. Collison struggled with just four points and four steals, but Bogdanovic would lead the way for the starters on the night with 16 points and six rebounds. He finished 6-10 shooting, the only starter to wrap up the night over 50%.

Impacts had to be felt elsewhere for the rest of the starters. Turner was a force defensively around the rim with three blocks and Young was active around the ball, but again, the starters allowed the game to tighten up again, with the timely shooting of the Heat bringing the game to within three halfway through the third.

Victor Oladipo hit a leaning three in an attempt to draw a foul as part of a 9-0 run that would push Indiana back up 12 late in the third only to allow the Heat to respond with a 9-0 run of their own, all on threes. The Pacers shifted back into shot making mode to open the fourth, with Domantas Sabonis scoring six of his 12 to help push the lead back to 12.

A fifth Evans three would push Indiana up 15 with he and Bogdanovic working to keep the Heat at least at bay as the cold shooting returned to Indiana. The Pacers would go on to miss five straight shots over four minutes, a pair of Turner free throws being the only points for them as the Heat slashed Indiana’s lead to just three at 92-89 with 87 seconds remaining.

Meanwhile, Oladipo was struggling big time shooting. He’s had halves where he’s missed everything, but never a full game. On a night that was simply not his, he remained undeterred with the game on the line, pulling up for a dagger three with 1:16 on the clock. That three was just Oladipo’s eighth point of the night, a season low, but he was there late despite that.

Oladipo finished 3-12 shooting, which moved Indiana to 25-3 in games when Oladipo shot 15 or less field goals. These sorts of stats are surprisingly normal for teams who can get game winning contributions to keep their best players from being volume scorers, but to win with less than 15 field goals and under 30% hasn’t happened yet. Indiana lost their only game in which Oladipo did both.

Things can be a bit different in that regard if the Pacers can seriously rely on their bench to be the difference maker. The bench had 53 points to Miami’s 27, shot 55.8% from the floor, hitting eight threes. Outside of Evans and Joseph’s games, Domantas Sabonis picked up another double double of 15 points and 12 rebounds.

The win helps snap Indiana’s two game home losing streak while also giving them the season series win against Miami. The two teams won’t meet again until February, which is a welcome gap given the general oddities both games against Heat were for the Pacers. In the meantime, Indiana will be on the second night of a back-to-back tomorrow, hosting the Atlanta Hawks at home. The young Hawks are 3-12 on the year and have lost 10 of their last 11 games. They’ll enter Bankers Life Fieldhouse after suffering a 138-93 loss to Denver.