MIAMI (AP)—Over the past nine games, the Indiana Pacers have alternated wins and losses every time out.
Oh, what Miami Heat coach Pat Riley would give for even a modest success rate like that right now.
“It showed some character for our team to go what we went through and still get the win in a tough environment,” Jermaine O’Neal said.
Well, ordinarily a tough environment: Miami’s latest debacle dropped it to 6-17 overall, 2-8 at home.
“There’s a lot of pain,” a somber Riley said. “It’s very painful. Sometimes you wonder. I’m not trying to get on a philosophical bent here, but when you’re given everything that you’ve ever wanted in your profession, you wonder why that you feel such pain. You say why, why give me all this and make me feel pain?”
Jermaine O’Neal finished with 24 points before departing with a sore neck with 1:55 left and Danny Granger added 16 for Indiana, which started the final period on a 14-4 run to take control and has now won 18 of the past 22 regular-season meetings with Miami.
Dwyane Wade finished with 24 points, but his potentially game-tying 3-pointer bounced off the rim as time expired.
“Everybody needs to figure out a way they can help with this, doing something 1 percent better,” Wade said. “If everybody does something 1 percent better, we’ll be a better team.”
Udonis Haslem also scored 24 for Miami, which fell to 2-8 at home and 6-17 overall—the fourth-worst record through 23 games in franchise history. Daequan Cook scored 14 points and Ricky Davis finished with 13 for the Heat. Shaquille O’Neal finished with 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting before fouling out.
“I keep repeating myself: We don’t play defense,” Haslem said. “That’s our problem.”
Asked if even a coach like Riley can say anything to turn this around, Haslem quickly said: “Nope.”
“He can’t save us,” Haslem said. “The only person that can save us is us. He’s been around a long time, he can tell all the stories he wants. But as a team, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. Coach is doing his best. As a team, we’ve got to step it up.”
Indiana led by 11 midway through the final quarter, but Miami rallied and pulled to 103-100 on a free throw by Cook with 39.5 seconds left.
The Heat got the stop they wanted on the next possession—but Jeff Foster grabbed the offensive rebound, Miami couldn’t catch up with any one for a clock-stopping foul and Kareem Rush’s layup with 5.8 seconds left made it a five-point game.
Davis made a 3-pointer with 3.7 seconds left, drawing Miami to 105-103, and Tinsley made one free throw a half-second later for what became the final margin.
Tinsley was 10-for-27 from the floor, three shots more than his previous season-high. Rush finished with 14 for Indiana.
“Down the stretch they made a run, but we made a run back and put the game away by playing good defense,” Tinsley said.
Miami made nine of its first 10 shots and shot 61 percent in the half, yet only led 55-52 heading into intermission. The reason was simple: Indiana had 10 offensive rebounds in the half, compared with zero by the Heat, and turned those extra chances into eight second-chance points to keep close.
It didn’t hurt that Tinsley was an offensive force, too.
He came into the game averaging 13.7 shots and 14.9 points, and exceeded both of those in the first half alone. Tinsley was 7-for-19 in the opening two quarters, finishing with 17 points—more than double his 8.1 career average when facing Miami.
“All eyes were on me,” Tinsley said.
The third quarter remained close, with 10 lead changes and six ties in that period alone. Jermaine O’Neal went 3-for-3 in the quarter with eight points, but Miami took a 79-78 edge into the final 12 minutes after Cook tipped in his own miss with 2.0 seconds remaining.
But Jermaine O’Neal opened the fourth with another 3-for-3 effort—this in the opening 2:12—and the Pacers took what was then their biggest lead when he cut across the lane and scored to put Indiana up 84-79. The run lasted a few more minutes, and in the end, it was barely enough.
“I’m proud of our whole team,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “That’s the second time we’ve won our fourth game in five nights.”
The Heat, who had no steals in Thursday’s loss to Washington, made six in the first quarter Saturday. … Chris Quinn’s streak without a turnover ended at 135 minutes, 25 seconds, when he stepped out of bounds after taking a pass from Wade in the right corner late in the opening period. … Former Florida Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis, who was traded earlier this offseason to the Detroit Tigers, was in the crowd and received a warm ovation.