Friday , Mar , 02 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Pistons, Heat set for South Beach battle

(Sports Network) – An Eastern Conference Finals rematch is on tap tonight at
AmericanAirlines Arena, as the defending world champion Miami Heat welcome the
Detroit Pistons.

Detroit has won five of six and seven of its last nine at Miami. The Pistons
have also won three in a row against the Heat overall, including an 87-85 win
over the squad on November 30.

Those games don’t include last season’s conference finals, when Miami knocked
off Detroit in six games en route to its first-ever NBA title.

It is Detroit, however, that is doing a better job duplicating success this
season. The Pistons are a conference-best 17-9 on the road this season and
lead the Central Division by 4 1/2 games over Cleveland.

Miami is one game under .500 at 28-29 and trails Washington by 3 1/2 games for
the top spot in the Southeast standings. The club is seventh overall in the
East though.

The Pistons have been out of action since Sunday, when they edged the Chicago
Bulls, 95-93. Richard Hamilton poured in 22 points, but it was Chris Webber’s
tip-in with 2.2 seconds left in regulation that lifted Detroit over Chicago.

Webber, who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, got a hold of the ball
and scored the deciding basket after Chauncey Billups put up a jumper. With
one last chance for the win, Chicago’s Ben Gordon missed a three-pointer from
the left wing to end the game.

Billups ended with 15 points and dished out nine assists, while Tayshaun
Prince added 14 points and grabbed nine boards for the Pistons, who have won
four in a row.

The game marked the return of former Piston Ben Wallace to Detroit. The four-
time Defensive Player of the Year, who was booed each time he touched the
ball, finished with six points and eight rebounds.

The Heat made up some ground in their division last time out when they downed
the Wizards, 92-83. Shaquille O’Neal scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds
in the victory.

Jason Williams added 23 points for Miami, which improved to 2-2 since star
guard Dwyane Wade suffered a dislocated left shoulder. Wade remains out
indefinitely.

Tonight’s game opens a six-game homestand for the Heat, who are 16-10 as the
host this season. Atlanta, Chicago, Minnesota, Washington and Utah will all
make visits to AmericanAirlines Arena during the stand.

DET MIA