The Miami Heat looked headed for an impressive road win against the revitalized 9-3 Detroit Pistons after Hassan Whiteside rebounded a Dion Waiters missed 3 and made a layup to put the Heat up 73-62 midway through the third quarter. The Heat made seven 3s in the first quarter and had 11 by halftime.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
The Pistons gained the lead by the end of the third quarter and withstood a Heat run early in the fourth to defeat Miami 113-102 Sunday evening. Miami got within 92-93 with 7:55 left, but Detroit ran off a quick 7-0 run. The Heat never responded.
Miami’s shooting went ice cold in the second half — the Heat only made two 3s in the second half. In some ways, the shooting mirrored that of Miami’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers last Sunday: smooth ball movement in the first half, more standalone 3s in the second. Dion Waiters tried to play the hero in the fourth quarter, but his shots weren’t dropping.
That great ball movement was on full display in the first half, as the Heat flummoxed Detroit defenders finding players open from beyond the arc.
Solid ball movement for the end of a six-game road trip. Wouldn't mind hearing from the Too Many Threes crowd during a game like this (these are good shots whether or not they go in). pic.twitter.com/tdvuMmFXxa— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) November 12, 2017
Josh Richardson and Kelly Olynyk thrived during the Heat’s first half run, hitting open shots. Olynyk hit his two made 3s of the night in the first half. But he was a bit of a defensive liability in the second half, and Erik Spoelstra yanked him early in the fourth when Detroit built their lead. Richardson finished with 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field, 3 of 7 from downtown, five rebounds and four assists.
On the flip side, Hassan Whiteside shot just 1-for-3 in the first half with the Heat’s shooting on fire. A couple of times, Heat players missed him when a guard switched onto him or when he had good positioning down low.
When Miami’s shooting was less effective in the second half, Whiteside was more active. He made four consecutive field goals for the Heat during one third-quarter stretch. The Heat center finished with 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field, 12 rebounds and two blocks.
Goran Dragic finished with 18 points on the night, but he had only four points in the second half. Dragic catalyzed the Heat’s first-half offense, getting into the lane for scores and finding open players. Waiters, Dragic’s backcourt partner, had 16 points on the night. Despite Waiters’ missed shots in the fourth, he had a couple of nice drives to the basket against the Pistons.
Neon Dion is feeling it in Detroit! pic.twitter.com/BSPYlszoe7— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 12, 2017
The Heat need more of those types of plays from Waiters, and less of the out-of-control Waiters who committed an offensive foul after trying to Euro-step on one play and jacked up shots as the game slipped away from Miami.
James Johnson had a couple nice plays in the fourth quarter, including an and-one layup to open the period, but was mostly lost for the first three quarters. Miami will need more from him the rest of the season.
Despite the loss, 3-3 on the season-long six-game road trip isn’t bad. It’s still early in the year. The Heat will fly back to Miami to face the Washington Wizards at home Wednesday night.