The Miami Heat got back one of its two All-Stars on Monday night, but Dwyane Wade was anything but his old self.
He had one of the worst shooting nights of his career (4 of 21), turned it over five times and showed plenty of rust after soreness in his left knee kept him out of the Heat’s high-scoring, post All-Star wins against the Hawks and Wizards over the weekend.
But as much as he did to help save the Heat late in regulation with a pair of crucial free throws, the night didn’t belong to Wade.
Behind backcourt mate Goran Dragic, another gutsy effort from Luol Deng and huge lifts from Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow off the bench, the Heat rallied to knock off the Indiana Pacers 101-93 in overtime at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“There is nobody who is going to fill up what [Chris Bosh] does, so we have to collectively as a group see what you can do to keep this going,” said Deng, who finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds and snapped his dislocated middle finger back into place late in the third quarter to stay in the game.
“This was a big win tonight; it’s three in a row. Every game we just have to try to get better and find a way to win.”
Dragic, who often played second fiddle to Wade during the first half of the season, scored five of his game-high 24 points in overtime, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out five assists in 41 minutes and quarterbacked Miami (32-24) to a pivotal win over Indiana (30-25) that split the season series 2-2. He made two crucial baskets at the start of overtime on hard-nosed drives to the basket.
“It looked like he had the most energy at that point,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Dragic’s late heroics. “So we put the ball in his hands. We had 62 in the paint. I don’t know how many times he got in the paint. He was relentless and it felt like he was only getting stronger.”
Said Dragic: “I don’t know where Spo thought I was fresh. My legs were done. But it’s a game on the line. Adrenaline kicks in and you battle against yourself basically.”
Paul George finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana but worked for every single thing he got with Winslow draped all over him for most of the game. On offense, the Heat’s first-round pick also made four big free throws in overtime and finished with a season-high 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes. He finished plus-29 for the game.
Asked if he was gassed, Winslow said with a straight face: “I wasn’t tired. I’m 19 years old, man.”
Whiteside, who had 25 points and 23 rebounds in Saturday’s blowout of the Wizards, finished with 19 points, 18 rebounds and six blocks Monday night. He dove into the seats to chase a loose ball near the end of regulation and was an intimidator in the paint all night. The Heat out-rebounded Indiana 66-45 and outscored them in the paint 62-36.
“With Chris Bosh out my role goes up a lot,” Whiteside said. “I think I really made a big emphasis on just doing that — just being reliable for [the team].”
The Heat fell behind 11-0 and 16-2 before Spoelstra went to his bench for help and brought in Winslow and Whiteside. The Heat trailed by as many as 14 points twice in the first half, but closed the second quarter on an 11-0 run and went into the half down 44-41 thanks to a big lift from Whiteside, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds at the break.
Winslow started the second half in place of Gerald Green, who was scoreless in 18 minutes.
Miami took its first lead with 6:40 to go in the third quarter on Deng dunk and ensuing free throw. But Miami didn’t have its biggest lead – eight points – until overtime.
Wade, who finished with 16 points, went to the free-throw line late in the game and made both attempts to give the Heat an 88-87 lead. Then, moments later, he fouled Monta Ellis with one second to play. Ellis, who finished 2 of 17 from the field with seven points, made only one of two attempts, and it forced overtime.
“It was a good call,” Wade said. “If he would have made both of them, then this would have been a different interview for me.”
▪ Backup point guard Beno Udrih became the latest to join the Heat’s injury list. He hurt his left foot in the first half and didn’t return. However, the Heat said X-rays were negative.