Pistons edge Heat
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – Richard Hamilton paced a balanced Detroit
attack with 19 points as the Pistons edged Miami, 94-88, at The Palace of
Hamilton, the Pistons leading scorer, returned to the lineup after missing
four games with flu-like symptoms.
“It felt good to be out there with my teammates,” said Hamilton. “Heck, after
seven days of headaches and dizziness, it just felt good to be moving
Chauncey Billups added 17 points for the Pistons, who continue to sit atop the
Central Division and own the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race,
Rasheed Wallace chipped in with 14 points while Antonio McDyess and Carlos
Delfino both dropped in 12 off the bench.
“Our bench has been winning us a lot of games lately,” said Billups. “There is
no secret about that. Carlos came in and played great, Dyess played well.”
Shaquille O’Neal tallied 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting for the Heat, who fell
one-half game behind Washington in the Southeast Division when the Wizards
topped the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. Jason Williams tallied 21 points and
Udonis Haslem had 15 points and eight rebounds.
The Pistons entered the final frame down by four and fell down by as many as
nine before reeling off a 14-0 flurry to forge back in front. McDyess’ bank
shot finished the rally with Detroit in front, 83-78, with 4:55 left.
Miami finally recovered over the next 1 1/2 minutes and Haslem’s tip-in
deadlocked things at 83.
Things remained even as the game headed toward the stretch until Hamilton’s
stop-and-go mid-range jumper put the Pistons on top, 87-85, with a little less
than two minutes on the clock.
The Heat answered by getting the ball down on the blocks to O’Neal. The big
man was fouled and made 1-of-2 from the line to make it a one-point game,
Detroit had the answer as Billups rose up and stuck a jumper from the top of
the key with 1:15 left.
Miami had a chance to tie on the ensuing possession but James Posey came up
short on a three and Wallace sealed things with a slick jumper from the free
“This is just a very, for me, for all of us, just a very disappointing loss,”
said Heat coach Pat Riley. “Probably for 38 minutes, we probably outplayed
them. Just broke down.”
The Heat used a stifling defense to run out to a 24-12 lead but the Pistons
bridged the first and second quarters with a 16-2 run to get right back in it.
Flip Murray’s dunk capped the burst and gave the Pistons a 28-26 advantage
with 7:41 left until intermission,
Miami recovered from there and finished the half strongly, taking a 46-41 lead
into the locker room.
The Heat continued to play frontrunner through three quarters, 69-65.
Detroit and Miami have been the participants in the last two Eastern
Conference finals. The Heat knocked out the Pistons in six games during last
year’s conference finals, while Detroit defeated Miami in seven games in the
2005 East finals…Detroit is 23-13 as the host this season…Miami has lost
three straight and eight of its last nine at Detroit.