The Indiana Pacers are back in the win column, fortunately so, after a perplexing game against the Miami Heat. The Pacers allowed the Heat to shoot 52% from three point range, committed 18 turnovers, and went a shockingly bad 17-29 from the free throw line, but those negatives were somehow offset by a handful of Indiana positives.
The Pacers would finish the night a surprisingly solid 54.4% from the floor and forced the Heat into 24 turnovers for 29 points. Neither seemed quite in line with the eye test, which saw an overwhelmed Pacers offense struggle to get good looks all while the officials disrupted the flow of play constantly by whistling 53 fouls, leading to 58 total free throw attempts.
Nestled within those calls was a tough Flagrant 2 on Thaddeus Young, who was ejected after elbowing a crowding Kelly Olynyk as Young attempted to clear some space, sending him to the locker room late in the first half. The Pacers trailed 59-51 at the break, opening the second half with Cory Joseph in Young’s place.
Joseph rewarded Nate McMillan’s decision to put him in the lineup by scoring the first five of the half, in what was his best night of the season. Joseph finished with 14 points on 6-7 shooting, with five rebounds and two assists. Many of the same issues plagued the Pacers offense throughout the game, such as questionable usage of their shooters and ball dominant play of both Joseph and Tyreke Evans, but Joseph made the most of his opportunities off the bench.
The Pacers were able to close the eight point gap rather quickly to open the third, but their success was quickly met with mistakes, whether it came on turnovers or poor rotations to close out shooters. They led by four after three, but saw the lead quickly evaporate helped by a big four point swing in which an Olynyk blocking foul against Evans was reversed, allowing the Heat to push themselves back into the game.
Indiana led 90-87 when Josh Richardson and Wayne Ellington hit back-to-back threes, flipping the score as part of a 11-2 that put Miami ahead 98-92 with under five to go. From there, the Pacers changed the game, picking up the pace, forcing turnovers, and getting huge minutes from both Darren Collison and Myles Turner.
The two would score 10 to lead the Pacers on an 18-4 run that closed out a hard fought 110-102 victory. Beyond their scoring, Turner had his best minutes of the season to close out the win, picking up two big rebounds and a big block on Justice Winslow with 46 seconds remaining.
The Pacers went ahead for good on a Bojan Bogdanovic three pointer, his third of the night, set up by Victor Oladipo. Oladipo couldn’t hit the dagger threes tonight, but was heavily involved in the final run with two assists, two rebounds, and a steal. Oladipo pushed the one point advantage Bogdanovic gave them to three on a patented jumper.
With the game being the oddity it was, it was only fitting the Pacers would force the game sealing stop 105-102 by having the ball end up in Bogdanovic’s hands on accident. Richardson drove the lane for the Heat and tried to whip a pass outside, only to have it ricochet off of Oladipo’s knee and bounce directly to Bogdanovic.
The Pacers would do what they hadn’t done all night: hit free throws to seal the win, ending it on a well drawn up inbounds play that got Oladipo free for a dunk and one in the final seconds. It snapped Indiana’s two game skid and extended their road winning streak to five games.
Oladipo led the way for the Pacers with 22 points, 10 assists, and four steals, dishing half of Indiana’s assists on a night when ball movement and sharp decision making was not much of a priority for the Pacers. Indiana had 18 turnovers as team, but Oladipo had just a single one, rounding out an impressive night despite just 9-22 shooting.
Collison and Bogdanovic picked up the slack shooting, scoring 17 and 16 respectively on 6-10 and 6-9 shooting. Collison shot well on an 9-3 shooting night from three point range and Bogdanovic gave Indiana some much needed shooting, going 3-4 from deep. The Pacers as a team were just 7-20 on the night, almost dooming them against the Heat, who hit twice as many.
Off the bench, Domantas Sabonis continued to bully his way in the post, picking up another double double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Sabonis shot 6-7 on the night and worked well in a tough matchup against Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside still finished with 20 rebounds, over half of Miami’s totals. The Pacers actually won the rebounding battle 39-38.
The win moves Indiana to 5-2 on the road, making them one of just four teams with a better road record than home record, sharing that honor with Sacramento, Utah, and the Houston Rockets. The Pacers granted one of those road wins to the Rockets just four days ago and will have a chance to return the favor when the two teams meet up on Sunday to wrap up their season series. The Rockets are 0-4 on their home court, but haven’t played there since October 30.