The effort? Certainly grittier than the debacle two nights earlier in Charlotte.
The energy? Much more respectable.
The result? That, alas, was no different that most previous Heat regular-season visits to Indianapolis.
And the second-half execution wasn’t any better, either.
Undone by turnovers, tepid second-half shooting and a late third-quarter Pacers blitz, the Heat fell, 96-83, on Friday at BankersLife Fieldhouse, losing its third consecutive game overall and its ninth in a row in Indianapolis.
"We played a good first half,” Dwyane Wade said. But “we played a stinker of a third quarter.”
This one was eminently winnable, with the Heat leading 48-47 at the half and 62-60 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.
But the Pacers closed the third on a 17-6 run, most of it achieved with Wade and Chris Bosh on the bench.
The Pacers shot 14 for 26 in a 30-point third quarter after making just 14 of 43 shots in the first half.
“We did a good job in the half-court defense,” Wade said. “In transition, we didn’t do a good job.”
On the other end, the Heat scored just 35 points after halftime, making only 13 of 37 shots.
Just as hurtful as the poor shooting, if not more so, were the 19 turnovers, leading to 24 Pacers points.
Goran Dragic committed five of them, Justise Winslow and Bosh four apiece.
Wade said the Heat’s turnovers are especially problematic because Miami doesn’t have a high volume of possessions to begin with, because “we play a slower pace than what the league is going… This is what we have. No one is coming out of the stands to help us. We can’t change that. That’s our roster. We have to figure out how to make it work.”
Bosh seemed especially bothered by “the unforced errors, attacking when nothing’s there. On the road, 19 turnovers isn’t going to get it done. We have to bring that down 30, 40 percent at least.”
Wade and Bosh were aggressive and efficient early, each scoring 14 in the first half.
“Chris, some games he decides to come out passive and some… aggressive,” Wade said. “It was good to see him aggressive tonight.”
But Bosh shot only 2 for 7 in the second half, closing with 23 points and 10 boards. Wade scored only six in the second half on 3 for 11 shooting, finishing with 20 points.
Gerald Green (13 points) was Miami’s only other player in double figures.
“They forced us into a lot of shots outside the paint,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We weren’t able to get to the line.”
To wit: The Heat shot 8 for 13 on free throws, while Indiana was 18 for 20.
Indiana’s Paul George --- the NBA’s third-leading scorer at 27.9 per game --- missed 10 of 17 shots but hit all eight of his free throws on a 23-point night.
The Heat also couldn’t slow guard Monta Ellis (24 points) or center Ian Mahinmi, who had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
As for Hassan Whiteside, he managed just five first-half minutes before picking up three fouls, and finished with 8 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes. Whiteside has blocked at least two shots in all 21 games --- the third-longest streak to start a season over the past 30 years, two behind Shaquille O’Neal and three behind Mark Eaton.
But for the third consecutive game, Whiteside did not play at all in the fourth quarter, though Wednesday’s Charlotte game was extended garbage time in a blowout.
Whiteside said his ankle, which kept him out of practice on Thursday, felt better during the game and wasn’t a factor.
Playing without guard Tyler Johnson (shoulder) and forward Josh McRoberts (knee maintenance), Spoelstra shuffled his rotation, inserting Amar’e Stoudemire, Josh Richardson and Beno Udrih and returning Luol Deng to the starting lineup after using him off the bench in his first game back from a hamstring injury. That allowed Green to resume coming off the bench.
But the point guard play was subpar, Dragic finishing with as many turnovers as points (five) and Udrih committing two turnovers in 14 minutes.
After an encouraging 12-6 start, the Heat has now dropped three in a row, all against Eastern Conference opponents: Washington, Charlotte and Indiana.
“Everybody goes through slumps,” Bosh said. “It’s part of a group that has not played a lot together. We have to stop it, figure it out together. We have to keep our spirits high.”
The Heat has now lost 43 of 52 regular-season games all time in Indianapolis.
Some notes from Indianapolis (where the Heat is playing) and a couple of Dolphins and Canes items:
### Hassan Whiteside said he will play tonight in Indiana (where Miami has lost eight straight) despite ankle discomfort, but Erik Spoelstra said the Heat definitely will be without two rotation players: backup point guard Tyler Johnson and backup forward Josh McRoberts.
Johnson is out with a left shoulder injury sustained in practice. "Can't remember what happened," Johnson said. "It's a little sore. I don't want to re-aggravate it. I'm trying to be cautious with it."
McRoberts is being held out for maintenance reasons on his knee, which was surgically repaired last December.
"We want to make sure he's progressing at a healthy level," Spoelstra said.
Whiteside said his ankle is "a little" sore but "my team needs me so I will be there."
### Rookies Justise Winslow, Frank Kaminsky and Stanley Johnson will be inexorably linked, and their careers compared, because the Pistons and Hornets bypassed Winslow in June’s draft, Detroit opting to take Johnson eighth and Charlotte choosing Kaminsky ninth, thus dropping Winslow to the elated Heat at No. 10.
So how do their rookie seasons compare so far?
### Of that trio, Winslow has the highest shooting percentage (42.7), the highest rebounding and assist averages (5.3, 1.5) and the best plus/minus (plus 64, which ranks 54th in the league and tops among rookies).
He also has the best defensive metrics: Players guarded by Winslow are shooting just 39.1 percent, compared with 49.7 against Johnson and 44.0 versus Kaminsky.
Winslow also has played the most minutes (571), compared with Johnson’s 492 and Kaminsky’s 330.
### Johnson --- who Winslow calls “a best friend” --- has scored the most points (185, to Winslow’s 127 and Kaminsky’s 99).
### Kaminsky shoots the best from three-point range (39.4 percent), compared with Johnson’s 29.5 and Winslow’s 22.9 (8 for 35).
Therein lies the one shortcoming with Winslow’s game: perimeter shooting. Winslow, averaging 6.4 points to Johnson's 8.0, entered Friday having made 11 of his last 33 shots, and 2 of his last 12 threes, over his past eight games.
Opponents have begun sagging off him.
“I think a lot of times more attention is on me when I'm in a ball screen or coming off a handoff action," he said.
"But there's less attention off the ball. So I'm trying to keep improving my outside shot to make the defense respect it more. As that becomes more consistent, then it'll just make us a much tougher team."
So does coach Erik Spoelstra want Winslow shooting when he’s open?
“Yeah, the right ones,” Spoelstra said Friday. “He tends to make the shot at the right time, but the corner three is something we encourage him to take.”
Several people, including ESPN’s Dick Vitale and two general managers who requested anonymity, have said Winslow projects as the best pro among those players selected eighth through 10th.
But one scout said this week that Johnson might become the best of the group because of his superior scoring ability, which would vindicate Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy’s decision to select him.
Van Gundy, asked months ago about passing on Winslow, said: “The main reason people ask that question is that he's from Duke and he won the national championship.”
Asked Wednesday why the Hornets took Kaminsky over Winslow, coach Steve Clifford said: “It was difficult, because Justise is a good player. But so much of it is need. Justise’s position, that versatile three/four, is what we have in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. But we were really high on Frank anyway.”
Winslow said he isn’t motivated playing against teams that bypassed him and that any disappointment of falling to 10th has dissipated.
“I kind of used it as motivation early,” he said. “But there have been plenty of players picked 10th: Paul George, Joe Johnson. Guys picked in the second round have become All Stars.”
Winslow --- who ranks third among rookies in minutes, sixth in rebounds and 10th in scoring --- said the key, regardless of “how many points I score,” is to “find a way to affect the game.”
### Chris Bosh said one of the Heat’s challenges in facing smaller lineups is that Miami has limited opportunities to practice against that.
“While I do try to look to get practice time on that, it’s really in the game, you have to pick everything up quickly,” Bosh said, noting that he and Udonis Haslem often guard each other in practice.
Said Dwyane Wade: “The game is different. It’s taken a while for teams to catch on. Early in the season, a lot of people are being caught off guard. … Some teams ain’t going to find their way. Some teams will.”
COUPLE OTHER NOTES
### On his new weekly segment on the ESPN Radio affiliate in West Palm Beach, Dolphins vice president/football operations Mike Tannenbaum reiterated his faith in Ryan Tannehill.
"We're committed to him. We can't continue to throw for 86 yards... Last week was an unusual game. There's a lot to like about Ryan, his toughness, resiliency, his work ethic, his arm talent. I'm glad he's with us and I expect him to play better the last four weeks. One thing I like about Ryan is no one is tougher on him than himself. I love his character. I think his future is bright."
### Five-star tight end Isaac Nautau's unofficial visit to UM went well today.
Nauta told Canesport's Matt Shodell that when we came down to Miami, he wasn't seriously considering Miami. "But I went down and I liked it. It's really a great place. I ended up liking it a lot. I'd say they're close to the top now."
So UM is now in a top six with Georgia, Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma State and Mississippi.
"It's a final six now," he said. "I've always liked coach Richt a lot. I just like the plans he has for the future."
Please check out the last post for the weekly media column, if you missed it.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz