The defense sputtered and Dwyane Wade scored just two points as the Miami Heat couldn’t keep the good times rolling after winning six of seven during its recent homestand, falling to the Detroit Pistons 104-81 on Wednesday night.
The Heat boasts one of the best defenses in the NBA early this season, but the usually low-scoring Pistons put up 60 in the first half behind a flurry of hot shooting and solid bench play. Detroit went 8 for 14 from beyond the arc in the first half, getting three long balls from journeyman Anthony Tolliver en route to a 60-43 lead at the break.
“They had us on our heels from the get-go,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They really dictated the game from the first possession, and they wouldn’t stop.”
The onslaught carried over into the second half, as Detroit went on an 11-2 run and never looked back. Ersan Ilyasova drilled two three-pointers, and Reggie Jackson hit one of his own to give the Pistons a commanding 74-46 lead just five minutes into the third quarter.
Detroit shot 16 for 31 from long range (51.6 percent), and the Heat wasn’t able to put up much of a fight offensively without Luol Deng, who sat out with a tight hamstring.
Wade shot just 1-for-9 from the field, and his two points were his fewest ever in a game in which he played at least 20 minutes (he played 23 on Wednesday night).
“I just sucked tonight,” Wade said. “It was nothing they were doing. As a group we’ve just got to bring a better game on the road.”
Chris Bosh wasn’t much better, netting just nine points on 3-for-9 shooting.
Gerald Green, who started in place of Deng, led the Heat with 16 points while taking more shots than anyone else (17). Hassan Whiteside put up 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a matchup with one of the best big men in the game, Andre Drummond (18 points, 20 rebounds).
“He’s a good big,” Whiteside said. “I felt like I did a good job on him defensively. He got 18 points on 18 shots. I feel like that’s pretty solid.”
Although Whiteside held his own in the final boxscore, all of Drummond’s damage came before a fourth quarter that the Pistons entered with a 21-point lead. The Heat never got closer than 19 in the second half.
Turnovers were a problem, too. The Heat committed 13, which led to 17 Pistons points. Meanwhile, they got just five points off seven Detroit turnovers.
“The game felt won in those effort areas,” Spoelstra said. “We just couldn’t get into a rhythm. On the road, you have to bring a real tough mentality. You have to be able to rely on the defense to get multiple stops in a row. It takes pressure off your offense.”
The Heat will try to get back to its winning ways Friday night against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.