Rookie Kennard sparks Pistons in 112-103 win over Heat
DETROIT (AP) Detroit Pistons rookie Luke Kennard took advantage of his opportunity to play clutch minutes for coach Stan Van Gundy.
Kennard finished with 14 points off the bench, shooting 6 of 11 from the field, including 2 of 5 from 3-point range, helping the Pistons to a 112-103 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday.
At 10-3, Detroit is second behind Boston in the Eastern Conference and off to its best start since going 15-3 in 2005-06. The Pistons swept a five-game homestand.
”We really stayed poised,” said Kennard, who has been in and out of the rotation this season. ”We stayed together, stayed connected and guys made plays all around the court. Everybody made an impact.”
Tobias Harris had 25 points, Avery Bradley scored 24, Reggie Jackson had 17 points and Andre Drummond added eight points and 17 rebounds for the Pistons. Detroit used a 10-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to pull away.
”Our guys got down in the second half and just kept playing, kept fighting,” Van Gundy said. ”I was really proud of our guys.”
Hassan Whiteside had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Dion Waiters added 16 points and five assists for Miami.
”We were not able to dictate and impose our style on this game, pretty much all across the board,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”You have to credit them, they flattened us out.”
The Pistons led 58-55 at halftime and 83-81 entering the final quarter. They opened a 91-86 edge after Kennard’s jumper. Later, after a 6-0 run got Miami to 93-92, Kennard hit consecutive shots – a runner and a 3-pointer – to make it 98-92 with 7 minutes left.
Kennard’s layup made it 107-97 with 2:24 left.
”As a rookie, his composure and the way he plays the game, it’s awesome to see,” Harris said. ”The lift he gave us coming off the bench, in big minutes, too, I’m proud of him.”
Van Gundy was an assistant with the Heat from 1995-03 and the team’s head coach from 2003-06. Pistons assistant Tim Hardaway played for the Heat from 1996-01 and his No. 10 Miami jersey was retired. … Heat assistant Juwan Howard played college basketball at Michigan.
Miami’s first four made shots to open the game were 3-pointers, giving the Heat a 12-7 lead, before Whiteside’s short jumper broke the string. Miami started 4 of 7 from 3-point range and finished the first quarter 7 of 16 from beyond the arc and 11 of 22 overall from the field. The Pistons made 4 of 8 3-pointers in the first quarter and led 31-29.
Heat: Former Michigan point point Derrick Walton Jr., now a rookie with Miami, attended Michigan’s home basketball game Saturday night in Ann Arbor and was part of a pregame banner ceremony to recognize the Wolverines’ Big Ten tournament title last season. He did not play in Sunday’s game at Little Caesars Arena. … G/F Rodney McGruder (left tibia) did not play.
Pistons: Starting small forward Stanley Johnson (right hip flexor strain) missed Sunday’s game, his third in a row. Van Gundy is hopeful Johnson will return for Detroit’s game at Milwaukee on Wednesday. … F/C Jon Leuer (left ankle) also did not play against the Heat.
Heat: Host Washington on Wednesday night.
Pistons: At Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
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