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Heat hold off Pistons rally for 117-108 win

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Miami saw a 29-point lead dwindle to seven at one point.

Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It was harder than it needed to be. But the Miami Heat defeated the Detroit Pistons 117-108 to improve to 7-3 on the season.

The Pistons got into Miami at 5:34 a.m. after losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night. And the Heat showed no mercy on Detroit, jumping out to a 29-point lead in the second quarter. Detroit mounted a furious rally — Luke Kennard scored all 22 of his points in the second half — but the Heat did enough to maintain some breathing room.

Part of the problem for Miami was some offensive droughts when Jimmy Butler went to the bench. The Heat also committed 19 turnovers, a glaring weakness for Miami throughout this early part of the season. Now, Miami had a number of injuries — Justise Winslow, Derrick Jones Jr., Tyler Herro and James Johnson were all out with various ailments. (Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Reggie Jackson were out for the Pistons.) But Heat players without the last name “Butler” struggled to score when they weren’t hitting 3s, save for Bam Adebayo.

Kendrick Nunn scored 20 points on the night and hit four big 3s in the second half — three in the third quarter after a Pistons run. But he still needs to improve his game driving to the rim; on another play in the third, he made a nice cut to the basket but had his dunk attempt rejected. If he hadn’t gotten that 10-game suspension, a healthy Dion Waiters could have helped the Heat tonight.

Even Goran Dragic didn’t offer much outside of his 3-point shooting. Dragic made three 3s in the first half and finished with 18 points and six assists on the night. He got into the lane a couple times for easy scores, but a few more good scores out of him would have kept the lead at a more comfortable margin.

To his credit, Butler played a great all-around game. With Winslow out, he acted as the point forward and directed the offense. And he finished with 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field and 13 assists. And he knew how to play the game. He found 3-point shooters during the first-half flurry, and then commanded the ball when the game slowed down in the fourth quarter.

It’s a shame that Bam Adebayo suffered from foul trouble tonight — he actually fouled out in 27 minutes of action. Adebayo was superb Tuesday, hitting short jumpers and scoring around the rim for 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field and 14 rebounds. And he also added his superb passing, including this nice dish that capped smooth ball movement and led to a Meyers Leonard dunk.

Chris Silva had some moments in his eight-point, nine-rebound effort off the bench, including an alley-oop from Goran Dragic and a couple of charges taken. But he also had foul trouble, and fouled out in just 17 minutes of action.

The foul trouble to Adebayo and Silva resulted in Udonis Haslem getting his first minutes of his 17th NBA season. Haslem entered the game in the third quarter to a nice ovation and scored on a nice hook shot.

The Heat will next face the Cleveland Cavaliers at 6 p.m. on Thursday.