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Knight and Daye, Daye and Knight: Heat 101, Pistons 98

The Pistons played one of their three best games of the season* against Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, but the same two young guys that helped keep Detroit in the game ultimately could not propel them to an upset victory in front of a surprisingly packed house at The Palace.

It started with Austin Daye, who in his six previous home games was 6-for-36 shooting. He hit seven shots in the second quarter alone, four being three-pointers, which was four times as many threes as he had hit in 13 games this season. He finished with a career high 28 points on 10-for-18 shooting (4-for-8 behind the arc) and also had six rebounds.

With every Daye comes Knight, Brandon Knight, who added 17 on 7-for-14 shooting in 41-plus minutes, including four or five big shots to pull the Pistons closer after Heat misses or turnovers. He also recorded two of his five assists on Daye's buzzer beater at the half and on Jerebko's three to put the Pistons up that many with a minute and a half left in the game.

Unfortunately, the downfall in the final minute and a half had as much to do with Daye and Knight as them keeping the Pistons in it. Knight started by missing two crucial free throws that would've put the Pistons up five. After LeBron knocked down two free throws following a Daye shooting foul, Daye missed a three about as bad as he missed them in the first 13 games; Knight grabbed the offensive rebound and then missed his patent floater. In the final seconds, with the Pistons having a chance to tie the game with a three, Daye walked and turned it over before he could get off what was playing out to be about as bad of a shot as you could imagine.

That shouldn't take away from their overall high quality games. With experience, these are games the young guys will hopefully close out, but for as exciting as the first 47 minutes were seeing them fight tooth and nail, the final minute was just as frustrating.

After the jump, I'll actually talk about Greg Monroe. I promise.

  • You were probably rolling your eyes throughout the first part of this recap, hitting CTL-F to search it, and wondering how the EFF this dude can talk about the young players carrying the Pistons against the Heat without mentioning the 21-year-old super sophomoose's 20 points and 10 rebounds, never mind some stingy defense. Well, Greg Monroe had seven double-doubles before tonight's. He had just as much to do with the Pistons hanging with the 13-5 Heat as Daye and Knight, but I thought it was more pertinent to point out the performances of two players we're not yet accustomed to playing like they did tonight. Forgive me. It is, however, very important to note that he bounced back from a mini-slump, like we all knew he would.
  • Stuckey was great, too. He scored 15 points on five (5!) shots. He also had six assists (four turnovers) and fouled out.
  • * I've seen a lot of comments here and on Twitter about how this is the best the Pistons have played all year and despite the L, which does help lottery odds, this is the kind of basketball that will endear this team to its fans. Several of those comments mentioned how there was no Gordon or Prince. All hate aside, Pistons played just as well in wins vs. Indiana (12-5) and Orlando (12-5) and those games had Gordon and Prince in the lineup (although i don't care about old basketball Prince). I'd say the Indiana game was the best game the Pistons have played this season. I'd also argue that the Pistons could've used Gordon on that last possession tonight -- his patent step back (albeit forced) three would've been a hell of a lot better look than Daye trying to put it on the floor and then traveling to end the game. Just saying.
  • Continuing with debbie downer perspective: tonight's game was a career game for Daye. I'm pumped he finally found some confidence (and some net) but he was horrible overall for 13 games before this one. In his third season, he's still about as raw as he was in Year 1. Games like this keeps hope alive, though, and it's awesome to hear it's not for a lack of working hard.
  • Daye pulling the chair out from under LeBron in the post like Rick Mahorn, making LBJ fall like the 4th quarter gravity is bringing him down, is another good way for Daye to become a fan favorite in Detroit.
  • Pistons were 11-for-18 shooting on cut and transition plays; 6-for-11 on pick and rolls; 9-for-21 on spot ups. They shot 36-for-72 overall in the game. Heat were 9-for-18 on spot up, 3-for-9 on isolation, and 37-for-71 overall.
  • Bosh was 12-for-15 with 27 points. LeBron James had 32 points. Minor details.
  • JJ letting it hang limp like Laimbeer was bad ass, boy:
  • Ben Wallace had three blocks in 23-plus minutes.
  • Box score
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