Dwyane Wade’s body language spoke volumes, and it was only the second quarter.
After another defensive mistake by forward Michael Beasley, this time allowing a wide open dunk, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called a timeout to refocus his team and slow the Pacers’ momentum. Wade heard the timeout whistle, slumped his shoulders and plodded back to the Heat’s bench.
When Wade finally made it back to the team huddle, he shook his head in frustration a few times, and then said something depressing to assistant coach David Fizdale, who shook his head, too.
There were still more than two quarters left in an important and close game with playoff implications, but Wade knew this one was already over, and maybe the season with it. After the inevitable 112-89 loss, the Heat fell to 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings with five games left of the season.
The Heat (34-43) and Pacers now have identical records, but the morale of the two teams couldn’t have been more different inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Indiana was buoyed emotionally by the return of forward Paul George, who broke his leg last summer playing with Team USA.
With George back in the rotation, the Pacers played like a team with the belief it still has a chance over these last two weeks.
Meanwhile, the Heat just keeps losing games to sub-.500 teams and losing players to injuries.
The Heat knew it needed at least one victory during its final three-game road trip, and was optimistic about two of the games.
Instead, the Heat won none, blowing a late lead to Detroit on Saturday, and getting blown out by the Cavaliers and now the Pacers.
And the injuries, inexplicably, continued to pile up during the road rip. Hassan Whiteside and Chris Andersen didn’t play against the Pacers and Luol Deng and Michael Beasley left the game with injuries.
“Last night was a heartbreaker and then, obviously, tonight losing Lu and losing Beas and already being shorthanded, it was tough,” said Udonis Haslem, who started at center and had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Wade led the Heat with 27 points and George had 13 points off the bench for the Pacers. Luis Scola led Indiana with 23 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. The Heat now returns home with more injured players than when it left Miami last Wednesday. The latest injury report:
▪ Deng will have an MRI on his left knee on Monday after playing through an injury he can’t shake. Deng injured his knee against the Atlanta Hawks on March 27, but the swelling has lingered.
“The second half of Detroit it swelled up again and this game came right back-to-back, so I had a lot of swelling,” Deng said. “We’ll know more [Monday]. I feel like I probably bruised something. I don’t exactly know what happened, but I had a lot of swelling. It’s just bothering me a lot with my movement.”
▪ Beasley also will have a scan on his knee on Monday after a scary fall in the third quarter. The Heat’s reserve forward said he only hyper-extended his knee, but he couldn’t continue in the fourth quarter of a game that might have sealed the Heat’s postseason fate.
▪ The Heat’s depleted rotation was already without centers Whiteside and Andersen, who both missed the game with injuries sustained Saturday in Detroit. Whiteside re-injured his right hand on the final defensive play of the game against the Pistons while trying to block Reggie Jackson’s game-winning layup. Whiteside’s 10 stitches between his middle and ring fingers “opened up” during the play, according to Spoelstra.
▪ Andersen said he was kicked in the foot Saturday in Detroit. He had trouble walking Sunday.
Without Whiteside and Andersen inside, the Heat used Haslem, Beasley, Deng and Henry Walker inside against the Pacers’ big frontline of David West, Roy Hibbert, Ian Mahinmi and Scola. The Pacers out-rebounded the Heat 55-37.
It also didn’t help that the Heat couldn’t make a shot from the outside. Some things never change in this matchup, it seems, and so the Heat was terrible from three-point range to begin the game, going 0 of 8 from three-point range in the first half. Miami finished 2 of 20 from distance compared to 14 of 30 for the Pacers.