A lot has changed since last season for the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.
The current teams look nothing like the ones that met in a hotly contested Eastern Conference finals match-up won by the Heat. Miami has not won much since that series — and that didn’t change Wednesday, when the Heat lost 106-95 to its old rival at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
As far as the regular season goes, Indianapolis has been a tough place to play for the Heat. Its last regular-season win in Indianapolis was in February 2012.
Dwyane Wade led Miami (14-19) with 20 points. Chris Bosh, in his second game back from a calf injury, had 18 points and eight rebounds, but the Heat lost its third in a row since beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas.
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Miami appeared to be in position to end the skid after scoring the last four points of the second quarter and extending the lead to 56-46 early in the third.
The rest of the third quarter was a completely different story. After building a 68-61 lead, Pacers guard C.J. Miles made a tough, contested three-pointer that started the Heat’s downward spiral. Indiana finished the quarter on a 17-2 run to head into the fourth quarter with a 78-70 advantage.
“The third quarter has been our achilles heel all season,” Dwyane Wade said. “We played a great first half. We boxed with them early in the third, and they took off from there.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of his team’s recent struggles in the third quarter: “This last month has been defined by eight minutes in a game in a lot of these games. We just have to figure it out and have to own it. We’ve talked about it enough. But the third quarters have not been good for us.”
Indiana led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter. The Heat went on an 11-4 run that cut the lead to six with 3:50 to play, but back-to-back three-pointers by George Hill, followed by another three by Miles, was too much to overcome. The Pacers shot a season-best 55.6 percent (10 of 18) from three-point range in the game.
Miles led the Pacers with 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He was 5 of 10 from beyond the arc.
Things don’t get much easier for the Heat, which will play six of its next seven games on the road, including several tough games out West.
“I’m out of the moral victory moments,” Wade said. “It’s either win or lose at this point. If we don’t win, we can’t pay attention to the playoff race.”
Added Spoelstra: “The solutions are every single one of us in that locker room. That will be our focus.”
In his first game as a visitor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the resurgent Danny Granger — Indiana’s first-round draft pick in 2005 — finished with 14 points and was 6 of 9 from the field including two three-pointers for Miami.
This report was supplemented with material from The Associated Press.