The Heat and Pistons traded blows all night Saturday, as the game rarely strayed very far from a two-point game either way. Dragic lead the Heat, pouring in 33 points, a season high in a performance worthy of his recent All Star selection.
Andre Drummond brushed off Miami defenders several times early in the 1st for smooth post hooks. Dragic and Bam connected for a monster alley-oop midway through the quarter and followed it up with another near miss a few plays later.
The Piston's pulled ahead at 18-11 with an 8-0 run before JJ finally silenced the crowd with a spot up 3. JJ anchored the heat offense from there on out, finishing the quarter with 8 points. KO also stayed active, making good decisions and putting in a couple sneaky layups even though his threes weren't falling. The Heat finished the quarter trailing by one at 26-27.
The Pistons stayed in front of Heat in the 2nd as Ish Smith flashed off impressive speed, bolstering the Pistons in the absence of Reggie Jackson. On the Heat side, J-Rich was active, stealing a pass and a ripping a rebound away from Drummond early in the quarter and adding in a spot up three.
The Blake Griffin-Andre Drummond pairing started playing off each other better in the period. Griffin got a layup off a Drummond rebound with 6:12 remaining in the quarter and threw down a monster tomahawk slam later in the quarter.
Ko tossed in a soft hook shot to draw the game back within one at 50-51 with only 25 seconds remaining in the half, but a technical foul on J-Rich and a crafty stepback jumper from Ish Smith sent the Heat into the half in a four-point hole 50-54.
The third was all Goran Dragic. The newly minted All-Star showed off why he was chosen as one of the East's best, pouring in 15 points on 7/9 shooting in the frame. On the defensive end, Bam neutralized Blake Griffin, stifling the superstar big man. But it seemed like every time the Heat got a little bit of wiggle room the Pistons fired back. After JJ canned a three with four seconds left to give the Heat a four-point lead, Langston Galloway banked in a half-court prayer to narrow the margin back to one at 78-77.
Things started to go sour for the red and black as the Pistons carried their momentum into the 4th. The Pistons fired off an 8-0 run to start the quarter before J-Rich finally ducked in for a layup to get the Heat on the board. Ish Smith continued to torture the Heat defense, hanging in the air at one point to set up a Drummond and-one layup. James Johnson, not to be outdone, came down the floor after the Drummond free throw and threw down a tomahawk slam on Piston's center. Drummond feasted on the boards all night, finishing with 23 points and 20 rebounds on the night.
The Pistons pushed their lead up to 7 points at 86-93 with 7:26 to go. But the Heat weren't down long. The man with the arm of exceeding monetary value fired back, draining a three to bring the Heat back within 4. The game drew even at 96-96 with 4:55 to go after a dribble up Dragic three but it was almost all Pistons from their on out.
The Heat were buried after the Pistons went up 101-108 on a Blake Griffin three with just 44 seconds left, his only points of the second half. Dragic looked to play the hero, hitting a three while hanging in the air as Griffin dove underneath him, but Ish Smith quickly crushed any hope with another dagger three. JJ swished a jumper at the buzzer, but the Heat fall to the Pistons 111-107.
Next up: Monday vs Orlando.