The Heat lost LeBron James to Cleveland, but the short-handed Pacers had only one starter from the previous meeting Wednesday night, which made Indiana’s 81-75 road victory at American Airlines Arena all the more surprising.
Forward Chris Copeland scored the winning basket on a driving layup with 42.8 seconds remaining in a defensive struggle that saw the Pacers go without a field goal for more than 5 minutes down the stretch yet still prevail.
Center Roy Hibbert, the Pacers’ lone starter from last May, sank two foul shots as did Donald Sloan after Copeland’s basket to give Indiana (3-6) its first road victory of the season and second consecutive win after a six-game losing streak. The triumph also snapped a seven-game losing streak at Miami, where the Pacers were unable to win in dropping the playoff series 4-2.
Miami (5-3) didn’t score after Dwyane Wade’s game-tying 3-pointer with 1:26 remaining.
Copeland, thrust into a starting role due to injuries to starters David West, George Hill and Rodney Stuckey among others, led the Pacers with 17 points. Hibbert scored 16 and Donald Sloan 15, including his third 3-pointer to give the visitors an 85-82 lead before Wade’s shot.
Wade led the Heat with 20 points. But Miami’s only other double-digit scorer was former Pacer Shawne Williams with 15.
Pacers guard-forward C.J. Miles missed his fourth consecutive game with migraine symptoms, which meant Indiana played just four reserves to the Heat’s six. But the Pacers’ subs still had an 18-17 scoring edge.
Indiana returns home Friday night to play the Denver Nuggets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.