Key players return to Heat lineup, but visiting Pistons come out on top
Jerami Grant scored 24 points, Derrick Rose had 23 off the bench and the Pistons — the team with the NBA’s worst record — came into Miami and beat the Heat 120-100 on Saturday night, sending the reigning Eastern Conference champions to a third consecutive loss.
The teams meet again Monday in Miami.
“I definitely think it was the most complete game we played so far,” Grant said.
Blake Griffin scored 15 for Detroit, which outscored Miami 38-19 in the third quarter. It was the biggest margin the Pistons outscored an opponent by in their last 331 quarters, going back to April 9, 2019.
“We didn’t play to … the Miami Heat culture that we represent,” Adebayo said. “I feel like we’re letting not only us and our teammates down, but the staff, we’re letting this organization down, the fans down. We’re built on the culture. The culture is take a bunch of guys, counted out, overlooked, and you figure it out. Right now, we’re not doing it.”
Miami was without Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley (both coronavirus-related), Tyler Herro (neck spasms) and Meyers Leonard (shoulder). The Heat got six players back — including Adebayo, Okpala and Dragic — from the NBA’s health and safety protocols list after satisfying quarantines mandated after contact tracing showed they may be exposed.
“These are the circumstances,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s not just for us. There are a lot of teams going through it.”
The Pistons got a reminder of the virus-dominated world postgame. Moments after going into the locker room for what should have been a few minutes of joy, they got told to go for an extra round of testing — so they came back out, went across the court into a far corner of the arena to get those done. The Heat also were tested postgame.
Those moves came after a week where the NBA postponed 12 games for virus-related reasons and put in tougher protocols with hopes of keeping players and coaches safer.
“It’s part of our new NBA,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “The only thing you can count on are the unusual things that happen during the day. … It’s not just about basketball. It’s about lives.”
The Pistons led by as many as 23, their biggest lead this season. Miami has trailed by at least 23 points in four of its first 11 games; that happened in four of 73 Heat regular-season games last season.
Isaiah Stewart had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons.
Pistons: Rose returned after missing Detroit’s last two games with left knee soreness. … Before Saturday, Detroit’s last quarter that was won by 19 or more was the fourth against Memphis in the next-to-last game of the 2018-19 season. The Pistons outscored the Grizzlies 36-14.
Heat: Robinson got credited for what officially is his fifth career dunk, the first that happened at AmericanAirlines Arena. … Okpala got his first NBA start.
Miami, which has used eight starting lineups in 11 games, is 4-7. Only seven of the team’s 33 seasons have started worse.
The Pistons have plenty of Miami ties. They started former Heat guard Wayne Ellington, had Delon Wright — brother of Dorell Wright, a 2006 NBA champion with the Heat — come off the bench and have former Heat guard Rodney McGruder on the roster as well. Plus, rookie Saddiq Bey nearly signed with the Miami Hurricanes before choosing Villanova.