HEAT LOSE FOR FIRST TIME SINCE DEC. 12
BY GEORGE RICHARDS
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Miami was missing Dwyane Wade as everyone knew but that hasn't been a problem so far this season.
It was on Friday night, however, as the Pistons were on fire for the final three quarters and rolled to a 109-99 win at the Palace.
Yes, the Pistons finally beat someone other than the Washington Wizards for the first time since Dec. 8 as they held a double-digit lead for much of the second half.
The Heat shot close to 52 percent from the field; problem was, Detroit shot 58 as the Pistons became the first team to crack 100 on Miami since the Knicks did it earlier this month.
"You would think on the road if you shot 51 percent and score 99 points, you are putting yourself in position to win,'' said coach Erik Spoelstra.
"But it wasn't even really close.''
-- Miami had tied a season-high with six straight wins as it hadn't lost since
Dec. 12 against Golden State.
Detroit lost seven of nine coming in -- with both wins coming against Washington.
The Pistons' non-Wizards win came in Cleveland three weeks ago.
-- Miami looked unstoppable against this Detroit team in the first quarter.
The Heat then forgot to play D and didn't get much out of players other than those named LeBron James (35 points, six rebounds, five assists) or Chris Bosh (28, nine boards).
James and Bosh were the only two Miami players to reach double-digits in scoring.
Ray Allen ended with nine points after scoring just one in the first half.
Detroit had six players in double digits.
"We're a team that wants to be whole every night and we were missing a big piece,'' James said of Wade. "Guys have to step up and we didn't have enough defensively.''
Said Spoelstra: "Shoot, I would love to sit up here and talk about offense. But the way they were lighting us up, that wasn't an issue. We had open looks.''
-- Detroit trailed 32-17 after the first 12 minutes but scored 41 points in the second quarter.
The Pistons led Miami by six at the half.
The Heat didn't respond and missed its first five shots of the third as Detroit opened things up to 15 points.
Miami didn't get its first points of the second half until James drained a 3-pointer from 25 feet out.
-- Detroit outscored Miami 64-39 in the second and third quarters with most of the scoring coming from reserves.
While Detroit's bench scored 65 points (60 percent of the Pistons' output), Miami got just 20 points (20 percent) from its bench.
"They have guys who want to play,'' Bosh said. "Give credit to them. They played well on offense and we missed shots we usually make. That took some of our wind out as well.'
-- Miami closed to within 10 heading into the fourth after James sank a long baseline jumper on the final possession of the third after pushing Tayshawn Prince out of the way.
James and Allen -- who missed his first five from the field after missing Wednesday's game with a shoulder injury -- scored the opening six points of the fourth to quiet the full house out in the Detroit suburbs.
Well, for just a bit.
The Pistons answered the James/Allen 8-0 run with a 7-0 run of their own, one fueled by a follow-up dunk by Charlie Villanueva.
"It all dissolved in the second quarter when they got off to that great start,'' said Bosh, whose team hadn't surrendered 100 points since the Knicks got 112 on Dec. 6.
"We pretty much dug a hole we couldn't get out of. They got into a rhythm, their guys were hitting shots. .-.-. We just couldn't stop them.''