Miami had two of its Big 3 out on the floor Friday night. One would think that would be enough for the Heat to handle whatever lineup the Pistons rolled out.
Usually it would have been. On Friday, it was not good enough.
Not even close.
The Pistons finally beat someone other than the Washington Wizards for the first time since Dec. 8 as they had a double-digit lead for much of the second half and ran past the Heat 109-99 at The Palace.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Miami had tied a season high with six consecutive wins, as it hadn’t lost since Dec. 12 against Golden State. Detroit had lost seven of nine coming in, with both wins coming against Washington. Detroit’s last non-Wizards victory came in Cleveland three weeks ago.
On Friday, however, the Pistons did some damage
“You would think on the road if you shot 51 percent and score 99 points, you are putting yourself in position to win,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, knowing Detroit shot 58 percent from the field. “But it wasn’t even really close.”
After a lopsided opening quarter, Miami didn’t play a whole lot of defense and didn’t get much out of players other than those named LeBron James (35 points, six rebounds, five assists) or Chris Bosh (28 points, nine boards).
James and Bosh were the only two Miami players to reach double digits in scoring. Ray Allen finished with nine points after scoring just one in the first half. Detroit had six players in double digits.
“We’re a team that wants to be whole every night, and we were missing a big piece,” James said of the suspended Dwyane Wade. “Guys have to step up, and we didn’t have enough defensively.”
Said Spoelstra: “Shoot, I would love to sit up here and talk about offense. But the way they were lighting us up, that wasn’t an issue. We had open looks.”
Detroit, which trailed 32-17 after the first 12 minutes, scored 41 points in the second quarter and led Miami by six at the half.
The Heat didn’t respond the way Spoelstra would have liked, as Miami missed its first five shots of the third quarter and Detroit opened its lead up to 15 points. Miami didn’t get its first points of the second half until James drained a three-pointer from 25 feet out.
Detroit outscored Miami 64-39 in the second and third quarters combined, with most of the scoring coming from reserves. While Detroit’s bench scored 65 points (60 percent of the Pistons’ output), Miami got just 20 points (20 percent) from its bench.
“They have guys who want to play,” Bosh said. “Give credit to them. They played well on offense, and we missed shots we usually make. That took some of our wind out as well.”
Miami closed within 10 heading into the fourth after James sank a long baseline jumper on the final possession of the third after pushing Tayshawn Prince out of the way.
James and Allen — who missed his first five shots from the field after missing Wednesday’s game with a shoulder injury — scored the opening six points of the fourth to quiet the full house out in the Detroit suburbs.
Well, for just a bit. The Pistons answered the James/Allen 8-0 run with a 7-0 run of their own, one fueled by a follow-up dunk by Charlie Villanueva.
The blowout many who braved the chilly temperatures expected did transpire Friday, only it was the home team having fun and the defending champs looking frustrated.
Austin Daye put the game out of reach with an uncontested dunk with 3:29 left to make it 101-90. Daye dunked off one of 10 assists from Will Bynum, whose 25 points were third on this night to James and Bosh.
Bynum came off the bench to help fuel Detroit’s second quarter — and more.
“It all dissolved in the second quarter when they got off to that great start,” said Bosh, whose team hadn’t surrendered 100 points since the Knicks scored 112 on Dec. 6.
“We pretty much dug a hole we couldn’t get out of. They got into a rhythm, their guys were hitting shots. … We just couldn’t stop them.”