Heat rally past Pistons to push win streak to 25
Inside the Detroit locker room, there were answers to the
question that has befuddled the NBA for nearly two months now.
How, exactly, would a team beat the Miami Heat?
After Friday night, the Pistons’ general response was something
along the lines of ”Good luck.”
LeBron James scored 29 points, Dwyane Wade added 19 and the Heat
extended their winning streak to 25 games by pulling away in the
second half and beating the Pistons 103-89.
”They’re one of the greatest teams,” Pistons guard Will Bynum
said, ”that I’ve ever played against.”
Miami trailed by as much as 11 in the first half before moving
within eight of tying the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers for the
longest winning streak in NBA history. The Heat also won at home
for the 16th straight time.
”We don’t get caught up in things like that, saying that we’re
untouchable,” said James, who also finished with eight assists and
eight rebounds. ”We know we can be beat by anybody, any night, if
we don’t come in with the mindset to play our game.”
Maybe they don’t always come in with that mindset in perfect
order, but the Heat clearly find a way to get there. Just this week
alone, they rallied from 17 down to win at Boston, then pulled off
the wild 27-point, second-half comeback to prevail at
No real dramatics were needed Friday, especially after Miami
allowed only 35 points after halftime.
”We were a little flat in the first half,” Heat coach Erik
Spoelstra said. ”But in the second half, the urgency was much
better, created a lot more opportunities off of our defense. I
liked the way we finished the game.”
Miami’s magic number for clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern
Conference is now three. The Heat also remained 1 1/2 games up on
San Antonio, which needed overtime to beat Utah, for the league’s
Greg Monroe finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit,
which dropped its 10th straight game. Jose Calderon had 18 points
and seven assists, most of that coming in the first half for the
Pistons, who also got 18 points and eight rebounds from Kyle
”The effort was there,” Calderon said. ”I thought we played
pretty for almost the whole game. When they came out for the second
half, they looked like a different team out there. … They tweaked
their game plan and it was a bit more difficult to make some
baskets. They were more aggressive.”
That’s because they had to be. James said Detroit caught Miami
off-guard in the first half with some sets. A quick halftime
adjustment or two, and the reigning champions looked like reigning
”It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. This time of year, it’s
going to be a dangerous team,” Spoelstra said. ”It’s going to be
a team absolutely urgent, desperate for a playoff position or a
team with nothing to lose, no pressure. Either way, you have to
impose your will.”
That did not happen, at least not in the early going.
For the fifth time in the last six games, the Heat trailed after
the first quarter. Detroit made 12 of its first 18 shots – 67
percent – and took a 28-20 lead fueled by an 8-0 run late in the
Detroit’s lead went to 11 in the second quarter, with Calderon
making all three of his field-goal attempts, all from 3-point
range. He wound up with 16 points and six assists at halftime, just
the second player to have a first-half stat line like that against
the Heat this season. There were times it seemed Detroit was
getting whatever it wanted.
Nonetheless, the Heat were down just 54-51 at the break.
”You knew they were going to make a run,” Monroe said.
”That’s what this league is all about. It’s about withstanding
On that front, the Pistons couldn’t keep pace. Detroit scored 28
points in the first quarter, 26 more in the second and 22 in the
first 19 minutes of the second half.
After that hot start, Detroit shot 22 for 65 (34 percent) the
rest of the way. A lull like that was just too much to overcome,
especially when the Heat took off on a 19-8 run to start the fourth
quarter and put away the game.
After getting fouled in the open floor and playfully crashing
into the basket support midway through the fourth, James took a
playful swing at Wade and clearly seemed relaxed even though the
Heat were up by only nine.
It was as if he knew the capper was on the way. When play
resumed, James set Wade up for a basket that gave Miami its first
double-digit lead of the night then threaded a pocket pass to Chris
Bosh for a three-point play and a 90-76 lead with 5:47
James walked to the far end of the floor, popped out his mouth
guard and watched the replay on the overhead video board, then
”We were in our groove, both offensively and defensively,”
James said. ”I kind of felt like it was at a point where we could
kind of break it open.”
The streak lived. Again.
NOTES: Heat G Ray Allen got three stitches in his lower lip. The
Heat aren’t sure if he will miss any game time. Miami next plays
Sunday at home against Charlotte. … James picked up his fourth
straight Eastern Conference player of the month award, this one for
February, in a brief halftime ceremony. … The Heat signed F Juwan
Howard for the remainder of the season Friday. … South Florida
native Brandon Knight (left ankle) remained sidelined for Detroit.
… The Heat played a tribute video to the Atlantic Coast
Conference champion Miami Hurricanes during the game, along with
highlights of their NCAA tournament win from earlier Friday. …
Pistons reserve Kim English fouled out with 23.5 seconds left in
the third quarter with no points in 12:05 of playing time. The only
other players with a zero-point, six-foul night in fewer minutes
this season are New York’s Kurt Thomas (9:40) and Toronto’s Amir
Johnson (9:26). … Golf’s Greg Norman was in attendance, along
with child abuse prevention advocate Lauren Book, who’s on her
annual awareness walk from Key West to Tallahassee.