Say this about the young Indiana Pacers — they don’t quit.
Victor Oladipo scored 21 of his season-high 28 points in the second half, but Indiana’s comeback effort came up short on Saturday night in Miami, as the Pacers (1-2) fell to the Heat (1-1), 112-108.
Miami led by as many 21 points in the third quarter before Oladipo helped trigger a Pacers rally. The former Indiana University All-American and his teammates gradually chipped away at Miami’s lead, eventually using a 7-0 run to make it 102-95 with 4:36 remaining on Cory Joseph’s runner.
A couple minutes later, Oladipo put back Darren Collison’s missed layup to make it a five-point game with 2:04 to play and Joseph then drew a charge on Josh Richardson on the other end.
But Joseph lost the ball on the ensuing possession, leading to a run-out layup for Dion Waiters that pushed the margin back to seven.
Even still, Indiana didn’t pack it in as Thaddeus Young scored on each of the Pacers’ next two possessions and Oladipo drained a 3-pointer with 23 seconds remaining that made it 109-106.
“We fought,” Young said. “Guys made shots and we all came together…we were giving ourselves a chance.”
After Richardson made one of two foul shots, Joseph banked in another runner with 12.9 seconds left to cut the deficit to two, but James Johnson made both free throws on the other end to seal Miami’s first victory of the season.
“We just got to do a better job on not digging ourselves in that hole,” Oladipo said. “(We have to) build on bigger things and learn from the bad things.”
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Even playing without starter Myles Turner, out for the second straight night with a concussion and sore neck, the Pacers got plenty of early production from the center position.
Domantas Sabonis, who scored just three points in his first start with Indiana on Friday, scored six points in the opening minutes of Saturday’s contest. 14-year veteran Al Jefferson then replaced Sabonis and quickly tallied seven points of his own — five of them coming during a 9-0 Indiana run — to help the visitors take a 31-26 lead after the first quarter.
“Big Al’s been playing well for us,” Collison said. “No matter how many minutes he’s playing, he’s coming in the game (and) giving us something.”
The Heat, however, dominated the second period. After going the entire first quarter without a turnover, the Pacers had seven giveaways in the second. Miami moved back in front with 13 unanswered points and outscored the Pacers 37-20 overall in the frame to take a 63-50 lead into halftime.
The home team looked on cruise control for much of the third quarter, leading by as many as 21 and taking a 91-76 lead into the final period.
Oladipo’s 28 points came on 10-of-22 shooting (4-of-7 from 3-point range) and he also collected four steals. Sabonis added 18 points and 12 rebounds to record his first double-double in a Pacers uniform.
Young chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds, while Jefferson finished with 14 points and eight boards off the bench.
Heat point guard Goran Dragic led the home team with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Waiters added 19 points, while Johnson finished with 14 points, four rebounds, and eight assists.
Miami was also without its starting center as Hassan Whiteside, the NBA’s leading rebounder in 2016-17, missed the game with a left knee contusion.
The Pacers will continue a three-game road trip on Tuesday night in Minnesota before concluding their jaunt across the country with a visit to Oklahoma City to take on Paul George and the Thunder on Wednesday.
Inside the Numbers
Sabonis’ 12 rebounds were a new career high. The 6-10 Lithuanian had two double-doubles last season as a rookie with Oklahoma City, his only two previous contests with double-digit rebounds.
Collison had 10 points, eight assists, and just one turnover for Indiana. Collison and Oladipo are the only two Pacers players to score in double figures in each of the team’s first three games.
The Pacers outrebounded Miami 13-6 on the offensive glass and had 22 second-chance points on Saturday.
Indiana had just 16 assists (only eight by players other than Collison) on 43 field goals. The Heat had 24 assists on 45 field goals.
Miami outscored the Pacers by 21 points from beyond the arc. The Heat went 14-for-34 from long range (41.2 percent), while the Pacers were just 7-for-19 (36.8 percent).
Stat of the Night
Oladipo was the first Pacers player to record 28 or more points and four or more steals in a game since Paul George on March 28, 2017. An Indiana player only accomplished the feat three times last season (George also did it on Nov. 1, 2016, while Jeff Teague did it on Nov. 20).
You Can Quote Me On That
“I felt like we got our second wind in the second half…I really applaud our guys for continuing to fight.” -Pacers head coach Nate McMillan
“As long as we continue to fight, it’s going to come. We just have to continue to play. (We have to) continue to trust the system, trust what we’re doing out there on the court together as one.” -Young
“We came together as a team and picked up our intensity on defense and just played scrappy.” -Collison on the fourth quarter
“If you watch any of these games now, they’re fast. The pace and tempo of these games are a notch up from before. Your offense has to be more efficient than it ever has had to be. In the fourth quarter, during that middle stretch I think our offensive execution and our shot selection was not where it needed to be.” -Heat coach Erik Spoelstra
“You could see that we played a little bit faster and we penetrated more. There was a little bit more room for us, but, of course, with his help our defense and rebounding would be better.” -Dragic on the differences playing without Whiteside
- The Pacers maintain a 61-46 lead in the all-time series with the Heat, but are just 17-37 in games played in Miami.
- The Blue & Gold have lost six consecutive regular season road games in Miami and 12 of their past 13 going back to the 2010-11 season.
- Remarkably, the home team has won the last 11 and 20 of the last 21 regular season games between the Heat and Pacers.
The Pacers make their lone trip of the season to Minnesota to take on Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 8:00 PM ET.
The Pacers return from a three-game road trip to face LaMarcus Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 4:30 PM ET. Find Tickets »