After stumbling a bit with the loss of starting point guard Brandon Jennings, the Detroit Pistons have regained their composure and look back on course for a playoff spot. Facing a tough test in the seventh-seed Miami, the Pistons passed with flying colors and ran the Heat out of the gym 108-91.
The leader of the charge was Jennings' replacement, D.J. Augustin, who had a baker's dozen in assists (13) and a donut (zero) in the turnover column. He also scored 25 points in myriad ways -- as a catch-and-shoot option on the perimeter, off the dribble and driving the lane for a few nifty shots off the glass.
The Pistons outhustled the Heat and ran them off the floor. Detroit won the rebound war by 10, had 11 more second-chance points. Augustin helped the Pistons pushed the pace, and Detroit had 22 fastbreak points to just four for Miami.
All of those heroics were needed as Chris Bosh had a dominating performance that might have pushed his team to victory if the lead wasn't so imposing and his teammates so generally hapless. Bosh had 34 points, including 19 in the third quarter on a perfect 9-for-9 shooting performance.
The Pistons were able to put their stamp on the game early with a 25-1 run to end the first quarter, leaving the frame with a 33-12 lead. Drummond nearly had a double-double in the first quarter with eight points and nine rebounds (finishing the night with 14 and 14). Augustin, meanwhile, notched nine points and five assists in the first.
Unfortunately, when Augustin and some other starters went to the bench, the Pistons easily coughed up the big lead. Miami cut it to nine in just five minutes. The Pistons were able to restore order and even found time to give newest edition John Lucas III some playing time. You could tell they didn't really run any plays with Lucas on the floor, settling for some simple actions using screens, but he did hit an open 3-pointer for his first points as a Piston and also had an assist.
Greg Monroe had a quiet 12-point, nine-rebound performance but his importance to the Pistons spoke loud and clear late in the game. Behind a quick 10 points from Danny Granger the Heat cut the lead to 95-83 with over five minutes to play and Stan Van Gundy was forced to put Monroe and the starters back into the game to put it away.
Monroe quickly bullied his way into deep position in the paint, received the ball, created space and made an easy hook shot. Monroe then received a solid pass from Kyle Singler and made a strong move toward the basket for a layup. On the next possession, the Heat were so preoccupied with preventing Monroe from abusing them again that the Pistons used the Moose double team as a way to get an easy look for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a layup.
The lead was now 18 points, order was restored and the Pistons were one step closer to the playoffs.