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Pacers final score: Pacers close out Heat 101-99

Indiana rode their defense to victory over Miami, picking up their second straight home win. Buddy Hield led the way with 25 points.

NBA: Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers Jacob Musselman-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers picked up another weekend W tonight, improving to 4-1 in Friday and Saturday games following a gutsy (and somewhat ugly) victory over the Miami Heat. More surprising than a win period was the final score: 101-99. It was Indiana’s first game holding an opponent under 100 points since March 20 and their first clutch win since March 18.

The stretch to close things was an impressive one for Indiana, holding Miami without a field goal for the final 5:35 of the game after a Gabe Vincent three tied things up 94-94. That capped a 10-2 run by the Heat, stagnating the Pacers offense with a zone, but following a Miami timeout at the four minute mark, Indiana was able to open things up just enough to get Buddy Hield a go-ahead look from three.

It was the only bucket of the second half for Hield, who had put the Pacers on his back in the second quarter to push them up by as many as 16, scoring 22 on 9-12 shooting with four made threes. That fourth quarter triple proved to be the difference maker, however, putting the Pacers in front for good down the stretch as they locked in on the defensive end (still strange to think about).

After trading misses and miscues, Tyrese Haliburton made it a five-point game with a nice layup off the glass. Turns out a two possession lead is better than one because on the following play, Tyler Herro worked his way to the line with a three shot foul against Myles Turner.

After connecting on all three, Haliburton got his turn to respond at the line, but uncharacteristically bricked the front end of his two shot trip to only make it a three point game heading into the final minute. The first free throw was the third straight miss for Haliburton, who had entered the night shooting 94.6% on the season from the line.

A chaotic final minute, including a quick jump ball call against a falling Hield against Vincent and a goaltending call turned block by Turner that still wound up as Miami points anyway would eventually set up Bennedict Mathurin for his first clutch free throws with 7.6 seconds remaining on the clock.

It was a rough night overall for the Pacers at the line, missing eight on 23 attempts, which nearly proved fatal against a perfect 26-26 outing by Miami, so an opening miss by the rookie Mathurin wasn’t a huge surprise, but he still stepped into the second one, giving Indiana a slight 101-99 lead.

That score would hold in Indiana’s favor, with Andrew Nembhard contesting Herro’s game winning attempt well enough to force the fadeaway short, giving the Pacers the win. It was the perfect finish for Nembhard specifically, who logged 28 minutes and played down the stretch as he and T.J. McConnell led the way for Indiana’s defense in the second half.

The duo had just eight points on 4-14 shooting (0-5 from three), but their 10 assists and two turnovers played well, as did their energy, particularly from McConnell. Both teams played incredibly sloppy, committing 19 turnovers each, but a 25-9 advantage in fast break points favored the Pacers in a big way.

While Hield led the way as a shooter, it was Mathurin who had everything going from the line. While Indiana as a team struggled from the line and Mathurin did split his trip at the end of the game, it’s unfair to suggest he had a tough night at the line at all, shooting a game high 12 attempts and hitting 10 of them.

Mathurin got five free throws up before the end of the first quarter and doubled that number by halftime, reaching 14 on 2-4 shooting at the break. In the second half, Miami was more effective at limiting both Mathurin and Hield, but Mathurin was able to connect on a pair of threes and flashed some positives on defense with a nice chase down block of Kyle Lowry.

That block in particular, leading to a Turner putback bucket, was one of many instances of defense leading to offense for the Pacers tonight, something that hasn’t exactly been prevalent since the trade deadline last season. Having Turner helps; the big fella had 16 points and seven rebounds with three blocks, but it was an impressive showing overall for the Pacers, holding the Heat under 40% for the game.

Haliburton wound up on the precipice of a triple double, scoring 22 points with nine rebounds and nine assists, all while committing just one turnover. Haliburton shot well at 9-16, nearly adding in three more points late in the third when a pull-up three was waved off after a collision between Dewayne Dedmond and Isaiah Jackson very nearly became the difference between a win and a loss, though when you can drop behind the back passes to a trailing Turner for three, there will be avenues to overcoming it.

The lone downside to tonight’s win was an early game ankle injury suffered by Chris Duarte. Duarte, challenging Lowry on a layup, came down hard on Lowry’s foot and had to be helped back to the locker room. Not surprisingly, he didn’t return, a tough blow after his positive play in Brooklyn.

Jalen Smith was also limited tonight for different reasons, finding himself the odd man out with Miami’s smaller lineups. He logged just 11 minutes, that run going to the more active Oshae Brissett, who made his impact felt with a steal, a charge drawn, and a couple of boards and dishes.

The Pacers improve to 4-5 with the win, opening up their home stand on a positive note. They’ll be staying put for the next week with a tough slate of opponents making a visit to the Fieldhouse, starting with the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.