Dwyane Wade poured in 43 points and the surging Miami Heat prevailed over the Indiana Pacers in overtime Friday night, 105-96, for their seventh straight victory. The Heat completed a season sweep over the Pacers (4-0) for the first time in the franchise's 22-year history.
More importantly, Miami moved into the fifth seed after the Milwaukee Bucks were defeated by Charlotte last night. They now hold a slim half-game lead over the Bucks with just six games remaining in the regular season.
The Heat have been on fire lately, winning 13 out of their last 16 games, which has helped them climb up the standings in the last month, rising from the eighth seed all the way to the fifth seed.
With Miami winning its first three contests against the Pacers this season, they knew their opponents would be showing up with a vengeance. Unlike the first three games, this one was a dog fight that saw a back-and-forth fourth quarter head into overtime.
The Pacers had huge runs in both the third and fourth quarters, but like usual, Wade was there to save the Heat.
With Miami trailing by four late in the third, Wade scored 14 of the Heat's last 16 points to regain the lead.
Then late in the fourth, Wade had a crucial assist and hit a free throw to give his team an 89-87 lead. However, Indiana was able to tie the game and send the game into overtime, where Wade completely took over.
The All-Star guard torched the Pacer defense for eight points in the extra period, including back-to-back three-pointers that ensured the victory for the Heat.
“Those two threes were a dagger at the end,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “Wade showed us why he’s one of the top three players in the league. He’s a superb clutch basketball player that single-handedly won the game for them.”
Overall, Wade finished with 43 points, one point shy of his season high, on 14-for-22 shooting, to go along with nine rebounds, six assists, three steals, and three blocks. In addition, he went 13-for-17 from the free throw line and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. His stellar play propelled Miami to their fifth straight road win.
The Heat are now 20-18 away from home, which shatters their 15-26 road record from last season.
Sophomore Michael Beasley chipped in with 12 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. Dorell Wright contributed 11 points and seven boards, while Mario Chalmers had 10 points off the bench. Udonis Haslem also had 9 points and 11 boards off the bench.
The Pacers were led by a strong effort from Troy Murphy, who posted 29 points and 15 rebounds. Murphy had a double-double at halftime with 20 points and 11 boards.
Danny Granger also contributed big with 25 points, while Solomon Jones added 13 and Brandon rush had 10 points.
Miami was able to match every run that the Pacers offered and they simply out-hustled their opponents. The Heat held the rebounding edge 52-38 and limited Indiana to 37 percent shooting from the field.
Miami will look to continue its winning streak tonight when they travel to Minnesota to face the lowly Timber Wolves. With just six games left, the Heat will need to continue its winning ways in order to hold on to their slim lead of the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference.
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