Heat storm back, beat Pacers in wild shoot out

The Miami Heat trailed the Indiana Pacers for most of Thursday night's game until they took the lead in the fourth quarter and didn't look back.

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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The Indiana Pacers packed their bags for a two-game trip to Miami. Thursday's game of runs came down to the Miami Heat’s second-half surge, leading to a 142-132 victory. 

Jimmy Butler was in attack mode right off the tip and stayed persistent in drawing contact to give the Heat its best opportunity at snapping its three-game losing streak. Butler tied his season-high with 36 points, partly due to 20 opportunities from the free-throw line. 

After missing the previous two games, Butler made it his mission to get the team back on track. He added 10 rebounds and three assists in his outing. It looked like Miami didn’t have enough juice with just Butler though, urging them to search for another weapon. 

Josh Richardson and Caleb Martin took over the scoring role on occasion, but rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. was the diamond in the rough. He finished the game with a career-high 24 points on 8-13 from the field. 

With Miami losing its most consistent contributor in Bam Adebayo to a hip injury in the second quarter, the keys were handed to the Heat’s role players. Jaquez simply took over in the second half, scoring 19 through the final 24 minutes. 

The poise and confidence that Jaquez ensues is extremely rare for a rookie in the league and it seems like he’s improving in all aspects day by day. Jaquez is quickly becoming one of the Heat’s go-to options in crunch time. 

“It’s experience, it’s poise, it’s reading what’s necessary for that possession," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Jaquez. "I think a lot of young players, they’re plagued by numbers… he has a poise about him, he can be aggressive and also read the defense." 

Miami had 66 points off the bench, with Richardson plugging in 19 and Martin scoring 14 on the night. Spoelstra coached a phenomenal game in terms of lineup changes, being able to slow or fasten the pace whenever necessary. 

Despite their successful night on the offensive end and a pretty quality performance on defense, the Heat still gave up 132 points. They had their hands full with the No. 1 scoring offense in the league and that seemed like too much to shield for a large portion of the game. 

Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton put on a scoring clinic in the first half, scoring 28 points before heading to the locker room for the break. Haliburton led the Pacers with 44 points and 10 assists. He was able to change the pace whenever he wanted and basically made the defense react every time he made his first move. 

“They play at such a pace, and Haliburton reads the scheme and coverages probably just as well as any player in this league… He’s really improved and that put us in a lot of situations where we had to be physical, be disruptive, and the utilize brain speed to scramble through several schemes,” Spoelstra said. 

Indiana had a few solid contributors who had an efficient night, but most of their winning plays came in spurts. Obi Toppin showed up big in the first quarter, but cooled down later in the game. Toppin finished with 25 points on the night, while role players Bennedict Mathurin and Aaron Nesmith beneficial plays. 

The Pacers were in the driver seat for much of the game, but a key factor to their downfall was free throws. They had three players foul out, ultimately putting the Heat on the line for 45 attempts. This helped Miami gain its first lead of the game at the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter and the Heat never looked back. 

“Once we took the lead, I think it gave the group confidence… And then that second unit again gave us a great boost,” Spoelstra said. 

The Pacers will stay in South Beach, awaiting another matchup against Miami this Saturday. Spoelstra and the Heat stand as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Coference, one spot ahead of Indiana.

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