Miami’s Goran Dragic drained the game-winning basket with 6.8 seconds remaining as the Heat edged the Indiana Pacers 113-112 in a wild NBA finish on Friday.
The Heat took their league-best home record to 14-1, but the injury-hit Pacers made them work every step of the way.
Dragic’s jump shot in the lane was Miami’s third attempt on a scrambling possession that had seen both Jimmy Butler and Kendrick Nunn miss and the Heat secure the rebounds.
“That’s who we are, man,” said Butler, who led the Heat with 20 points. “Never give up on any play.”
Indiana’s Aaron Holiday had a last chance for a game-winner but his effort failed to fall.
Bam Adebayo had 18 points and 15 rebounds, including the offensive rebound of Nunn’s miss that made Dragic’s game-winner possible in a contest that saw 20 lead changes.
“The ball didn’t want to go in, but we came up with two huge offensive rebounds, first Jimmy, then Bam,” Dragic said. “The ball came to me. I was just open and I made the shot.”
The Heat maintained their third spot in the Eastern Conference led by the Milwaukee Bucks.
The absence of reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo proved no problem for the Bucks in a 112-86 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Khris Middleton scored 23 points as the Bucks bounced back from their Christmas Day loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Antetokounmpo, nursing a sore back, looked on from the bench as the Bucks improved their league-best record.
The Hawks, meanwhile, lost their ninth straight and saw guard Trae Young hobble out with a sprained right ankle in the first half.
The 76ers were unable to build on their upset of the Bucks, falling 98-97 to the Magic in Orlando.
Sixers center Joel Embiid drained two three-pointers in the final 25 seconds, but his desperate long-range effort as time expired wouldn’t fall and the Magic escaped with the win.
Orlando had stymied Embiid for much of the night, holding the All-Star center to 24 points. He was scoreless in the second quarter and scored just six points in the fourth.
“I think that the physicality that Orlando played with, I give them credit, I don’t think that we responded to it at all,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said.
Evan Fournier led Orlando with 20 points. Aaron Gordon added 19, Terrence Ross had 17 and Nikola Vucevic 16 for a Magic team holding down eighth place in the East.
Boston, second in the East, cruised to their fifth straight victory, 129-117 over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Jaylen Brown matched his career high with 34 points and Jayson Tatum added 30 for the Celtics, who improved to 22-7.
Brown’s outburst followed a 30-point performance in a Christmas Day win at reigning champions Toronto and marked the first time in his career that he had consecutive 30-point games.
Warriors win again
The Celtics led 84-62 midway through the third quarter, but some defensive lapses let Cleveland trim the deficit to single digits.
It was close in Charlotte, where the Oklahoma City Thunder survived a fourth-quarter comeback from the Hornets to triumph 104-102 in overtime.
Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham tied the score in the waning seconds of regulation.
But after the horn teammate Terry Rozier, apparently thinking the game was over, tossed the ball into the stands and was assessed a technical foul.
That let Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul take a free throw that put them up 95-94 before the clock even started ticking on overtime, and the Thunder would never trail in the extra session.
The Golden State Warriors’ resurgence continued with a 105-96 come-from-behind win over the Phoenix Suns.
D’Angelo Russell scored 31 points and handed out six assists for the Warriors, who trailed most of the night and erased a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit on the way to their fourth straight win – just their ninth of a season marred by multiple injuries.