LeBron James scores 24 as Heat rout Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — LeBron James and Miami breezed through one big rematch.
Now the Heat can prepare for another.
James had 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and Miami routed Detroit 110-95 on Sunday, avenging a home loss to the Pistons less than a week ago.
Up next for the Heat is a game at Indiana on Tuesday. The Pacers have the NBA’s best record — and this will be the first meeting between the teams since Miami’s seven-game victory in last season’s playoffs.
“They’re a great team right now, the way they’re playing,” James said. “We’re trying to get healthy, we’re trying to get to our full potential. We’ll see what we can do.”
First, the Heat had a score to settle against a Detroit team that won 107-97 at Miami on Tuesday. Ray Allen scored 18 points for the Heat, who were without Dwyane Wade on Sunday but still shot 56 percent from the field and 11 of 28 from 3-point range. Miami took an early 16-5 lead, and although the Pistons fought back, the Heat went on a 13-2 run in the third quarter to make it 74-57.
“They got us pretty good — they beat up on us in Miami,” James said. “To return the favor, we wanted to play much better against them this time.”
Miami looked motivated from the start. Allen’s 3-pointer made it 12-2, and although the Pistons steadied themselves momentarily, they could never tie it.
Miami led 59-53 at halftime, and Mario Chalmers and Allen each made 3-pointers during the crucial run at the beginning of the third quarter. The Heat led 91-70 after three.
“We knew that their focus was going to be higher, and you could see that at the beginning of the game and again in the third quarter. They were really able to push the ball off our missed shots and get some easy baskets,” Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. “We knew what was coming after we beat them up there, but knowing they are going to be coming hard is one thing. Stopping them is something else.”
Andre Drummond had 19 points and 14 rebounds for Detroit, which had its four-game winning streak snapped. The Pistons never showed any sign of slowing down Miami, and although they finished with 17 offensive rebounds, they never took full advantage of a potential edge inside.
Detroit had a 21-6 edge in second-chance points, but that could have been far worse for the Heat against Drummond and Greg Monroe.
“I thought we did a better job tonight versus last game of — when they did get the ball, really wall them up and force them under the basket,” Miami’s Shane Battier said. “Those guys are pogo sticks, and not much you can do when they’re playing above the rim like that. But once they catch it, try to wall them up and keep them pinned to the baseline.”
The Pistons entered as NBA leaders in steals per game, and the Heat turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, but Miami took care of the ball better over the final two quarters, and its torrid shooting never really let up.
The Miami bench scored 41 points on 15-of-24 shooting. Roger Mason Jr. had 12 points and Chris Andersen added 10.
James, meanwhile, shot 10 of 15 from the field, although he did have six of Miami’s 16 turnovers.
Chris Bosh scored 16 points for the Heat. Brandon Jennings had 19 for the Pistons.
“I didn’t think we had enough energy tonight. When you are playing at home, you should have a ton of energy, and we didn’t,” Detroit’s Kyle Singler said. “We went in there and beat them a few days ago, so we knew they were going to want revenge tonight. They are tough when they play like that.”
Wade played in Miami’s win over Minnesota on Saturday night, but coach Erik Spoelstra likes to rest him in back-to-backs to reduce the wear and tear on his knees. Heat forward Michael Beasley (left hamstring) and Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey (left knee) were also out.
NOTES: Detroit’s last five-game winning streak was in December of 2009. … Miami shot 65 percent in the first half and was 5 of 12 from 3-point range.