Having gotten uncharacteristic results for much of this month, the Miami Heat hope a matchup with the scuffling Detroit Pistons – a team they regularly dominate – can help change their fortunes.
With Dwyane Wade’s status unknown, the Heat will try to end their road woes Friday night by earning a 17th win in 20 meetings against the Pistons.
Miami (48-22) was beaten on the scoreboard and had two of its star players wounded in an 84-83 loss at Eastern Conference-leading Indiana on Wednesday. Wade was on the bench for the final minute with ice on an ailing right hamstring and LeBron James needed a cotton swab in his nose to keep playing in the fourth quarter during a 38-point performance.
The Heat scored just three points in the final 3:22 of that final period with Chris Bosh missing a potential game-winning shot before the buzzer as Miami fell to 5-8 since March 4 and dropped three games behind Indiana with 12 remaining. The Pacers have 10 games left and are playing in Washington on Friday.
"Both teams played in playoff style, and I don’t think we executed good enough," said Wade, who had 15 points and six turnovers.
The Heat finished with their fewest points on the season, and are averaging 91.6 in their last five games – 11.5 less than their season average.
Wade, who sat out Miami’s previous two contests, may sit again to give his hamstring more time to heal because he’s usually been on the bench for at least one half of back-to-back games for much of this season. The Heat complete a three-game trip Saturday against Milwaukee.
Ray Allen will also likely miss the final two games of the trek because of an illness.
Wade was on the bench for the Heat’s last visit to Detroit, a 110-95 win Dec. 8, and has missed three of last four games in Auburn Hills. Even without his contributions, Miami has won eight of the past nine road matchups with the Pistons and shot 55.6 percent in its most recent one.
Wade had 30 points and 10 rebounds in the latest matchup, a 102-96 victory Feb. 3, and James finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double.
The Heat enter this one having dropped six of seven away from Miami this month and are one loss shy of a four-game road skid, which would match their longest since James and Bosh joined the team before the 2010-11 season. The Heat’s last four-game road losing streak was March 2-14, 2012.
The Pistons (26-45) have dropped 16 of 20 and seven of 10 at home. After snapping a five-game skid with a 114-94 rout at Utah on Monday, Detroit was edged 97-96 by visiting Cleveland two days later when Dion Waiters hit a baseline jumper at the buzzer.
The Pistons led by 16 after three quarters but were outscored 31-14 in the final period. The East’s 11th-place team is five games behind Atlanta in eighth.
"Our guys played their hearts out, and it is tough when you are one shot away from winning the game," coach John Loyer said. "But we didn’t do the little things that it takes to win these games."
Brandon Jennings is averaging 22.7 points in his last six games against the Heat.