Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Goran Dragic had 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds as the Miami Heat held off the Boston Celtics 93-86 on Wednesday night.
Miami moved two games in front of Boston for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics, meanwhile, are a half game ahead of the Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets for the eighth spot. The Heat also secured the tiebreaker over Boston after clinching the season series 3-1.
Luol Deng netted 15 points and Udonis Haslem added 12 points and 12 boards for the Heat, who have won four of their last six games.
"As a captain he led this team tonight with his toughness," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Haslem.
Jae Crowder posted 16 points and seven rebounds to lead Boston, which has dropped four of its last five contests on the heels of a five-game winning streak.
Isaiah Thomas returned to the Celtics lineup following an eight-game absence due to a bruised back, but scored just four points on a 2-of-7 effort from the floor.
"He was a little bit out of rhythm tonight. Hopefully that was rhythm and not how he's feeling," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Thomas.
Boston began the fourth on an extended 21-7 run to trim a once 22-point second half deficit to 89-83 following Phil Pressey's layup with 1:59 left. Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart, though, missed left wing triples for an opportunity to make it a one-possession game in the final 1:15.
The Celtics never got within less than five the rest of the way.
The Heat, who led 27-20 following a quarter of play, began to pull away during the early stages of the second.
They were up 29-24 before creating a healthy cushion following a 12-4 run. Dragic netted seven points, including consecutive 3-pointers at one point during the surge, which was capped on Deng's runner for a 41-28 Miami advantage midway through the frame.
The Heat took a 57-40 margin into the break and built their advantage as high as 22 in the third. James Ennis was fouled at the buzzer and sunk both foul shots for an 82-62 spread.
Heat guard Dwyane Wade was held out Wednesday after suffering a knee injury against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday ... Henry Walker and Johnson scored 12 points apiece for the Heat ... Miami tallied 18 points on 17 Boston turnovers ... Boston outscored Miami 24-11 in the fourth quarter.