During its 10-game winning streak the Heat made it a habit of digging a big hole for itself early and yet still finding a way to climb out of it late.
Miami couldn’t pull it off again Tuesday night.
The Pistons, who had yet to beat a team with a winning record this season, left AmericanAirlines Arena with a 107-97 win against Miami despite yet another hard-charge by the Heat in the fourth quarter.
Miami (14-4) trailed Detroit (8-10) by 17 points with 11 minutes to play, but trimmed the Pistons’ lead to 91-88 on a thunderous, driving dunk by LeBron James with 6:16 remaining.
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But the Heat, who were without Dwyane Wade (knee soreness) for the fourth time this season, missed three consecutive jumpers after that. And when Brandon Jennings connected on a long three-pointer, it started a 7-1 run that proved to be the difference for Detroit.
“We have to do a better job coming into the game being a little more aggressive, not shooting as many jump shots,” said James, who along with Michael Beasley led the Heat with 23 points. “We’ve done that and teams have gotten leads on us.”
Miami shot 9 of 28 from three-point range and turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 28 Pistons points.
Did the Pistons’ size dictate Miami’s offense too much early?
“I don't think so,” James said. “If we got opens looks guys take them … they just didn't fall. It's kind of a gift and a curse sometimes.”
On the bright side for Miami, Beasley had a season-high 23 points in 30 minutes off the bench including a perfect 3-of-3 effort from three-point range.
Miami trailed 85-68 when Chris “Birdman” Andersen sparked a 20-6 run when he grabbed a Beasley miss as he was gliding to the basket and slammed it home. Norris Cole used his speed for a pair of back-to-back layups and then a Jennings turnover moments later led to an easy Cole layup which got the score back to single digits at 85-76 for the first time since 3:11 remained in the first half.
James returned moments later and made it even closer. But there was no rally on this night.
“We just had to regroup,” said Pistons forward Greg Munroe, who finished with 16 points and six rebounds, one of seven Pistons to finish in double digits. “I think everybody refocused and realized we still had control of the game. We have to take a big one like this against a very good team and build on it.”
As it has a lot lately, the Heat got off to another sluggish start. Miami opened 4-of-16 shooting from the field and fell behind 28-18 after one quarter.
Miami trailed by as many as 18 points midway through the second quarter before James checked back in and reeled off 10 consecutive points to trim the deficit back to single digits.
James, who had as many fouls (two) as points in the first quarter, went into the break with 16 points as Miami trailed 54-43. Josh Smith led the Pistons with 13 points at the half.
Even with center Andre Drummond sitting on the bench with four fouls just 51 seconds into the third quarter, the Heat couldn’t cut into Detroit’s lead even after Chris Bosh finally got it going. After scoring only four first-half points on 1-of-3 shooting, Bosh had seven points in the quarter.
But Kyle Singler kept the Heat deficit at double digits, hitting a pair of three-pointers and scoring 10 points in the third quarter on his way to a team-leading 18 points.