The Pistons were getting the Heat with the top three Miami starters missing the game due to various injuries. Nice. Easy one then, right?
The Heat shut the door on that idea pretty quickly. They came out hot, making their first eight buckets and shooting out to a quick double digits lead.
Miami controlled throughout the first half, getting the lead up by as much as 14 points. It looked like it may have been yet another bad blowout - and especially embarrassing considering the roster the Heat were trotting out.
Four of the Heat starters are D-League alums. Another two rotation players also spent time in the D-League. And hey, I like the D-League as a player development tool. But when six of the nine players to hit the floor came from that route…
Miami got to 30 points with four minutes left in the first quarter and had 66 points at halftime.
Reggie Jackson kept the Pistons within reach by constantly attacking the rim, hitting the 20 point mark early in the third quarter. He handed the scoring load off to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who carried the Pistons to the lead in the third quarter. KCP scored 11 points in the final four minutes of the third to get the Pistons the lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Detroit tightened up their defense in the second half, which proved to be the difference. Or perhaps it was just the Miami shooting slowing down, but either way, the Heat followed up their 66 point first half with a 32 point second half.
The game was reminiscent to their performance Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks, where when they had the chance to roll over and yield to another blowout, the Pistons fought back. They’ve now competed at least reasonably well in four of their past five games, an big improvement over most of December.
Andre Drummond had a mostly solid game, finishing with 25 points, 18 rebounds, and a pair each of steals and blocks. He was the recipient of plenty of ally oop finishes and did a nice job of pacing his pick and roll to put himself in position. Too many ill-advised hook shots, but his 12-19 shooting was overall positive.
Jackson and KCP joined him with 20+ point nights. Jackson had 27 points and four assists, Caldwell-Pope finished with 23 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds including 4-7 shooting from three.
Tobias Harris returned to the bench with Marcus Morris back from injury, and kept up his aggressiveness with the second unit. He finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
Aron Baynes rolled an ankle in the fourth quarter and went down in pretty considerable pain. He didn’t make his way back into the game and it’ll be worth monitoring his availability in the coming games.
The Pistons get tomorrow off before hosting the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.