MIAMI — For so much of the night, just about everything went wrong for the Miami Heat. The players were missing every 3-pointer, arguing plenty of calls, even screaming at one another.
Then one quick burst changed everything.
Dwyane Wade scored 32 points, LeBron James had 24 on a sore left ankle, and Chris Bosh and Ray Allen made huge 3-pointers within a 31-second span down the stretch. It all added up to the Heat erasing a 15-point deficit in the final 18 minutes to beat the Indiana Pacers, 97-94, on Wednesday.
“It shows we’re a team that’s been there before,” Wade said. “No matter what the score is we always feel we have an opportunity to win the game.”
So even when Indiana led 68-53 midway through the third quarter, hope remained. And even when James and Mario Chalmers got in a heated exchange during one particularly bleak stretch, the Heat didn’t fall apart.
“It was a good win,” James said. “Good, good, quality win against a very good team on our home floor. We had to overcome a lot.”
Paul George scored 25 points for Indiana but missed a 3-pointer that would have tied it with 4 seconds left.
“I went into my shot, got pushed in the back. I thought it was a foul, nothing was called, and we lost the game,” George said. “Aside of that, we still should have taken care of business.”
David West had 23 points for the Pacers, who hold a one-game lead over Miami in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have beat the other on their home floor this season. Miami topped Indiana at home in Game 7 of the East finals a year ago.
“It’s December,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “I think you have two great teams going at it. It’s going to be a fun series all season, the regular-season matchups, and hopefully we will both be able to reach a point in the playoffs where we can meet again.”
Miami got the 15-point deficit down to five by the end of the third quarter. It was still down 92-85 when West scored with 3:21 left. Then the Heat put together a big run.
Miami scored the next 10 points, including Bosh’s tying 3-pointer. After George missed in the lane, James brought the ball the other way and found Allen for the go-ahead 3-pointer.
“I was encouraged by our ability to stay focused and show some resolve in the second half,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but you have to make enough plays ... and a lot of times against this opponent, it has to be like that, where it’s not smooth and you have to make enough plays to just give yourself a chance in the end.”