Depleted Heat fall to Pacers 102-98 on the road

Nevertheless, the Heat made it very interesting very late, rallying back to take the lead very briefly, but ultimately succumbed, 102-98, on a night that fill-in starting point guard Josh Richardson and backup point guard Tyler Johnson combined to shoot 3 of 16 and couldn't compensate for Dragic's absence.

Goran Dragic has been playing brilliant basketball this season, averaging 20.1 points and six assists per game, each of which would be the second-best marks of his career.

Dragic said he expected to play Sunday but the injury worsened overnight to the point where the swelling completely shut his eye.

Whiteside scored the first basket of the second half, but after Teague knocked down all three of his free-throw attempts after being fouled behind the 3-point line, IN led 65-57 early IN the third.

"Guys was still playing hard".

DeRozan said the loss is "definitely something we can overcome" in the conference race. "It would have been easy to come in here and make excuses", Whiteside said.

"You better respect them because they're here to stay", Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "We came right back, but Paul George does what great players do".

George - the NBA's leader in free-throw percentage - hit all three of his attempts to put in up 11, but Whiteside had another putback and Waiters nailed a 3 to get the Heat within 76-70 and force a Pacers timeout with 2:55 left in the third. Had the Heat won, they would have moved into No. 8 and within a half-game of the Pacers, who remain at No. 6 in the East.

The Pacers hit 22 of 44 shots from the field in the first half.

Miami clawed its way back in the second quarter, eventually tying the game at 48 after a pair of free throws by Whiteside with 2:28 left in the half.

Finding consistency over the final 16 games will be the difference between a post-season berth and a disappointing end to a season of high expectations. Only Wayne Ellington was a threat from deep, going 5-11, but the rest of the team finished 4-21 (28.1%).

NOTES: Miami had won the first two games with IN this season, both at Miami.

Toronto's Serge Ibaka, who had 18 points, scored to make it 86-all, the 17th tie of the game. Miami C Hassan Whiteside ran his string of at least one blocked shot in a game to 23.

The Heat didn't score again until the closing seconds as the Pacers held on for the victory.

  • Julie Sanders