LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Gordon Hayward scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter on Wednesday (April 3) to pace the Boston Celtics in a 112-102 NBA victory over Miami that saw the Heat drop out of the play-off positions.
Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Al Horford chipped in 21 for the Celtics, who maintained their slim edge in a tight Eastern Conference race over the Indiana Pacers - who beat the Detroit Pistons 108-89.
"It was a tough one," said Hayward, who made 12 of 13 attempts from the free-throw line, matching Miami's total from the stripe.
"It's tough to beat a team twice in a row like that, especially at home, they're desperate," he said.
"I thought we did a good job containing their runs. They made a couple, but we fired right back.
"It was a great win for us," added Hayward, who noted that even though the Celtics have clinched a play-off berth, they have yet to lock up one of the top four spots that would give them home-court advantage.
They are ahead of the playoff-bound Pacers in fourth by virtue of a tiebreaker, both teams with identical 47-32 records.
In Detroit, Andre Drummond scored 28 points, pulled down 19 rebounds and had three steals and three blocked shots for the Pistons, but the Pacers took full advantage of the continued absence of Blake Griffin to seize the win.
The Pacers ended a 10-game road losing streak with their victory in Detroit, where the Pistons' 11-game home win streak was snapped Thaddeus Young scored 21 points with eight rebounds and four assists. Bojan Bogdanovic and Myles Turner had 17 points apiece for Indiana, who beat the Pistons for the second time in three days.
"I hate playing teams back-to-back games," admitted Young. "They get to lock in on you a little bit more. It's a playoff-type setting."
Despite the difficulties, the Pacers came up with a win that left the Pistons in sixth in the East, heading a group of four teams separated by just one game as they fight for three remaining play-off berths.
The Brooklyn Nets' hopes took a hit with their 115-105 loss to the Toronto Raptors, who are chasing the Milwaukee Bucks for the top seed in the East.
The Orlando Magic, meanwhile, did themselves a world of good with a 114-100 victory over the New York Knicks that saw them leapfrog over Miami into eighth.
Piling the pressure on Miami, the 10th-placed Charlotte Hornets kept their slim hopes alive with a 115-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.