NBA: Miami coach Erik Spoelstra praises Paul George after Indiana Pacers halt Heat rally

Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers brings the ball up against the Charlotte Hornets during their game, on March 6, 2017.
Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers brings the ball up against the Charlotte Hornets during their game, on March 6, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Paul George scored 28 points as the Indiana Pacers held off a late Miami Heat rally to maintain their push for the National Basketball Association playoffs on Sunday.

George rallied the Pacers superbly after the Heat recovered from 85-93 down to take the lead with nine unanswered points with 4min 10sec to go in the fourth quarter.

He hit a three-pointer to put the Pacers back in front before the hosts held on to clinch a 102-98 victory which saw them improve to 34-32.

Miami, who fell to 32-25, just outside the Eastern Conference playoff places, missed leading scorer Goran Dragic, who was nursing an orbital contusion after suffering a blow to his right eye on Saturday.

Hassan Whiteside led the Heat's scorers with 26 points and 21 rebounds.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said the Pacers' ability to make clutch plays when it mattered had been the difference.

"They made more plays down the stretch," Spoelstra said. "I thought Paul George played like great players do."