It was sloppy, disjointed, clumsy, ugly and, most certainly, embarrassing.
And it wasn’t just the fourth quarter Saturday for the Miami Heat.
The Heat finished a devastating three-game homestand in fitting fashion Saturday against the Indiana Pacers. Miami, fighting to hang on to playoff positioning after losing two straight, scored only 11 points in the fourth quarter, letting a chance to rally past the Pacers slip away into a 95-88 loss for the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The final 12 minutes in Miami was as ugly as NBA basketball gets. The Heat (24-27) went 3 of 15 from the field and missed all nine of its three-point attempts to squander a fantastic defensive fourth quarter, and slip to three games worse than .500 for the first time since the calendar flipped to 2019.
Dwyane Wade did his best to keep Miami in the game in the third quarter, scoring 10 of his 21 points in the final 3:55 of the third to cut Indiana’s lead, which had once been as large as 18, down to 84-77.
Then both offenses melted down. The Heat didn’t score for the first 3:06, then didn’t score again for another 2:03. Even though Miami held the Pacers (33-19) scoreless for the first 4:39 of the fourth quarter and to 11 points total, the Heat’s offensive issues left Miami with a third straight loss in front of 19,600 at AAA.
It was the latest missed opportunity for a Heat team, which already plays with a thin margin for error. Miami shot well in the first half — 19 of 37 from the field, 6 of 14 from three-point range and 10 of 13 from the free throw line — but turned the ball over 14 times, leading to 16 points for Indiana, so the Heat settled for a 54-53 lead at the half.
It took all of 1:59 for the Pacers to effectively bury Miami. Hassan Whiteside — who finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds, but didn’t score in the fourth — went to the free-throw line on the Heat’s first possession of the second half and the star center missed both. Guard Cory Joseph answered with a basket and Indiana was off on a 10-0 run. Miami turned the ball over twice during the spurt, while forward Thaddeus Young scored five points and post player Myles Turner finished the run with a three-pointer to give the Pacers a 63-54 lead with 10:01 left in the period.
Even Wade couldn’t save the day. A day after commissioner Adam Silver made him one of two “special roster additions” for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, Wade put up his biggest scoring total of 2019, but after a pull-up three with seven seconds left in the third cut Indiana’s lead to 84-77 the guard wouldn’t score again.