Dwyane Wade disappears, Heat fall for first time in 10 games

Miami got off to another slow defensive start, allowing the Pistons to hit their first three shots.  That was a recent trend and they needed to tighten up quickly, but that is easier said then done.  Transition was the early problem for the Heat defense, and turnovers were plaguing them offensively.  It also helped that the Pistons started off 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, but countering that was D-Wade.  He hit his first two shots, and both of them were accompanied by fouls (and he hit the free throw both times).

Detroit went on an 8-0 run late in the quarter, something that teams have been doing regularly against the Heat of late, even during the win streak.  Both teams settled in during the 2nd quarter, spending much of it trading buckets.  Detroit started off the quarter hitting 7-of-9, which allowed them to hold a slim 4-point lead for a bit. 

As halftime drew closer, Detroit went on an 8-0 run to take their largest lead of the half at 9.  Miami answered by out-scoring the Pistons by 6 in the final couple minutes, going into the locker room down by 5.  Still, Detroit shot 58% against the Heat in that half, the highest shooting percentage by a Heat opponent in a 1st half in their last 39 games. 

After Miami came out on fire, drawing within a couple points, the Pistons came right back and pumped the lead back up to 8.  The Heat was getting buckets but Detroit just wasn't missing...and when they did miss, the Pistons were there to grab the offensive boards.  As the 3rd quarter went on, I was growing more and more frustrated because every time the Heat made a basket, they couldn't get a stop if their lives depended on it.  That isn't necessarily a knock on their D; the Pistons were just making everything they threw up.

Just like at the end of the 2nd quarter, Miami went on a run at heading into the 4th.  Detroit had stretched their lead all the way to 12 when the Heat began to chip away by scoring 5 straight points and then coming back with an amazing defensive possession.  Joel and Dorell came up with back-to-back blocks that led to a pair of D-Wright free throws.  As it was at the half, Miami went into the final quarter down by 5 thanks to a 9-2 run.

With just under 8 minutes left, Miami took their first lead since there was 4:24 left in the 1st quarter.  As is often the case, the Heat's run was fueled by tenacious defense that (finally) had the Pistons missing shots.  Unfortunately the Heat lead was short lived, but they were right back in the game with plenty of time left.   By the time Dwyane Wade returned to the game about 90 seconds later the Heat were back down by 3. 

One guy who was having a real tough time in the 2nd half was Mario Chalmers.  Several of his shots looked just awful, and his passes weren't much better.  Yet he stayed in the game...but who would be replacing him?  Arroyo was out there too, as the Heat had to go small to match up with the Pistons.  Or did they?  With Jermaine on the bench the options were limited.  Meanwhile, the Heat were back down by 6 because Wade was being double and triple covered and nobody except Udonis Haslem could do anything worth while. 

Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Price were absolute Heat killers in this one.  A Gordon triple gave Detroit a 7-point lead, which they held until there was 2:38 left.  Dorell Wright and Gordon then traded 3-pointers twice, and Miami's inability to get any stops would ultimately lead to their first loss in 10 games. 

GAME NOTES

  • Tayshaun and Gordon accounted for 67 of the Pistons 106 points (that's 63% of their scoring). 
  • Ben Gordon's 26 2nd half points are the most by any Heat opponent in a half this season. 
  • Miami gave up over 100 points for the first time since the last time they lost, an OT defeat against Orlando on March 18th
  • The Heat shot over 50% for the 21st time this season, hitting 55.7% of their shots.  Their record is now 19-2 in those games. 
  • 16 turnovers for Miami...8 in each half. 
  • Where was D-Wade?  He took only 8 shots and was held scoreless in the 4th quarter.  He did have 9 assists, but it's been a while since a team has been able to shut down Wade with double teams like this. 
  • Udonis had double digit rebounds for the 5th straight game and collected another double double with 16 and 11.

That's all I got for now...gotta be at work in 5½ hours.  Miami is now a full game back of 5th place Milwaukee, who won again.  Charlotte helped out the Heat by losing at Houston; they still sit in 7th place trailing the Heat by 2 games.

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