The electricity passing through Dwyane Wade’s knee before the game was the most stimulating thing at The Palace at Auburn Hills on Sunday.
With Wade out and receiving therapy on his right knee in preparation for the big game against the Pacers on Tuesday, the Heat started Ray Allen for the second time in three games and defeated the Pistons 110-95 in an arena that has lost some of its luster over the years.
It was the Heat’s second game in less than 24 hours but the difficult turnaround following Saturday’s victory against Minneapolis didn’t seem to affect the back-to-back champs, which lost to the Pistons by 10 points last week in Miami. The Heat shot 55 percent from the floor for the second consecutive game.
After falling two assists shy of a triple-double against the Timberwolves, LeBron James filled the box score once again, scoring 24 points to go along with nine assists and seven rebounds. He was 10 of 15 from the field and 4 of 5 from the free-throw line.
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James’ breakaway, one-handed dunk amid a runaway third quarter seemed to be a reflection of the Heat’s overall mood throughout the game. Clearly, the Heat was still upset with itself for losing to the Pistons on its home court on Tuesday.
“We definitely wanted to get this game,” James said. “They got us pretty good. They beat up on us in Miami, and we wanted to return the favor and play much better against them this time.”
The Heat will end its difficult four-game road trip on Tuesday with a marquee match-up against the Pacers. It’s the first meeting between the two teams since last season’s epic Eastern Conference playoffs.
“When we get to Indiana, we’ll start to prepare for them,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Obviously, this game will have a spotlight on it from the outside, but we just want to play well. We want to play to our identity and build on what we’ve done on these last two games on the road. That’s what I’m looking forward to seeing — the resolve, the toughness, the defense.”
The Heat was once again outrebounded by the Pistons — this time 43-34 — but Miami actually recorded more defensive rebounds than Detroit (29-27). Last week, the Pistons outrebounded the Heat 33-21 on the defensive glass.
“They’re tough,” Spoelstra said. “Not only are they big and that front line is big but they play way above the rim, so sometimes your block outs have to be with more force, you have to also get up in the crowd. I liked some of the rebounds we had. We were just more competitive in general.”
After lackluster performances against Detroit and Chicago, the Heat’s back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday was a display of just how dominant the team can be when properly motivated.
The Heat’s bench started the game 10 of 10 from the field until Roger Mason Jr. missed a shot in the third quarter. Miami shot 64.7 percent in the first half after going 11 of 15 from the field in the second quarter.
Receiving minutes with both Wade and Michael Beasley out, Mason capped off a dominant third quarter for the Heat with a three-pointer to give Miami a 91-70 lead. Beasley missed his second game in a row with a strained hamstring. Wade has now missed six games to rest his knees.
“It’s just a plan that they have set and I’m trying to stick to it,” Wade said.
Wade bumped his right knee against Minnesota but said the painful incident didn’t contribute to him missing Sunday’s game. Wade’s electric-stimulation treatment before the game has now become a regular part of his daily routine. The therapy helps reduce pain.
Spoelstra praised Allen and Mason for filling in for Wade once again. Allen had 18 points in less than 25 minutes as a starter and Mason had 12 points in 24 minutes.
“Hopefully, we can get to some consistency, but ultimately with this group, whichever direction we go, guys are just ready to help us produce,” Spoelstra said.
“Not only did Ray settle in tonight but I thought Roger really stepped up tonight. He was aggressive for two nights in a row.”
Chris Andersen went 4 of 5 from the field for 10 points. Chris Bosh had another solid game with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Seven players scored in double figures for the Pistons: Brandon Jennings (19), Andre Drummond (19), Josh Smith (13), Jonas Jerebko (12), Greg Monroe (10), Kyle Singler (10) and Charlie Villanueva (10).