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Pistons shellack Heat 116-96

The Pistons blew the game open in the fourth quarter, winning it 38-23.

Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The Miami Heat earned their best win of the season Friday night in Boston. They’ve now followed it up with two embarrassing losses.

First came a clunker to a depleted Memphis Grizzlies team. And tonight, the Heat suffered a humbling loss to the Detroit Pistons, a team that entered the game with just six wins on the season. Yes, Jimmy Butler took the night off. But the Heat should’ve won. Instead, the Pistons rung up 38 fourth-quarter points to turn a competitive game into a blowout.

The Heat led for most of the first half — though it was too close to comfort. Tyler Herro carried Miami, hitting his first seven shots and finishing with 34 points on 12-of-17 shooting. On the other hand, the Heat missed several free throws and went into halftime with just a three-point lead.

The third quarter went poorly. The fourth was even worse.

Midway through the third, Bojan Bogdanovich hit a 3-pointer to give the Pistons a 63-61 lead. The Heat struggled offensively and went into the fourth down 78-73.

The Heat entered the fourth without a center — unless you count Haywood Highsmith as the five. (Dewayne Dedmon was out, and Nikola Jovic got some early minutes as Bam Adebayo’s backup.) Victor Oladipo, who made his season debut Tuesday, made a few encouraging jumpers but also took some ill-advised shots.

On the other end of the floor, the Pistons encountered little resistance from whatever semblance of Heat defense they saw. Detroit built their lead to double digits midway through the fourth, and Miami couldn’t run efficient offense to get back in the game.

Even while missing Butler and Gabe Vincent, it shouldn’t be difficult for the Heat to crack 100 points in 2022. Tuesday night, they only mustered 96.

Adebayo finished with 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting but shot just 3-of-6 from the foul line. He grabbed 15 rebounds, but turned the ball over five times. The Heat needed the Adebayo who averaged 30 points when Butler was out just last week. That didn’t happen tonight. In fairness, Adebayo picked up two early fouls, which may have factored into his lack of aggression.

The only Heat player who has suited up for every single game, Kyle Lowry, shot just 1-of-6 from the field Tuesday night. Lowry offered some good moments, including a couple steals after getting switched onto a big and a half-court lob to Max Strus early in the third.

All of that would have been passable if Butler played and the Heat won this game. But Miami’s game fell apart in the second half. One reason is that Lowry didn't steer the ship when the offense bogged down.

The Heat will next host the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.