Holding on to a tenuous lead in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons, Dwyane Wade scored nine of his 30 points in the final frame to lead the Heat to victory. Miami went up by 15 points with a little less than four minutes in the game, but a last-minute Pistons run made the final score a more respectable 102-96.
For the Heat, this game was another encouraging performance following Saturday's double-digit win over the New York Knicks. Miami improved to a season-best 21 games over .500 and remained three games behind the Indiana Pacers for the best record in the East. And after a 10-of-15 shooting performance against the Knicks, Wade went 13-of-19 Monday night. He made effective use of his post game, easily out-working Detroit's smaller guards. He was explosive in transition, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out five assists. If Wade plays like that for the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat should move past the Indiana Pacers. The only blemish for the 2006 NBA Finals MVP were the six turnovers, including a couple in the final moments that made the game closer than it had to.
LeBron James added 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting from the field, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Wade and Ray Allen each stole a rebound from James in the fourth quarter, preventing him from getting his first triple-double of the season. James looked visibly distraught after losing the rebound, but who cares if James doesn't have an arbitrary collection of statistics in a game? The four-time MVP finished the play of the game when he caught a sky-high lob pass from Mario Chalmers in the second for the slam.
Chris Bosh scored 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 shooting from the line to go along with seven rebounds. Bosh had a very impressive first half, scoring 15 points before intermission on everything from 3s to driving layups. But the Heat offense seemed to forget about Bosh in the second half, as has happened too often since he arrived in Miami four seasons ago.
On the whole, though, this game had a lot of positives. Ray Allen made a pair of 3s in a 64-second span that bridged the third and fourth quarters to keep the Pistons at bay. The Heat led for virtually the entire game and always responded when Detroit made a run.
Perhaps more importantly, Greg Oden had a solid 11-minute stint. He looked mobile, cutting off a couple ball-handlers in pick-and-rolls and even running with James in a fast-break situation. Oden grabbed three offensive boards, including a nice tip-in, and forced a jump-ball with Greg Monroe. Unfortunately for Oden, Andre Drummond repelled a dunk attempt of his right at the rim. Slowly but surely, Oden is coming along as well as anyone could've expected going into the season.
The Heat will start a long road trip that will continue after the All-Star break Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 on ESPN.