Miami, FL – The Miami Heat continue to win games, and keep on making them interesting as well.
After battling back from large deficits in their previous two victories, the Heat dug themselves an early 11-point hole against the lowly Detroit Pistons before dominating the second half en route to a 103-89 decision that extended their winning streak to 25 games.
LeBron James once again led the way for Miami, now eight games shy of matching the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers' NBA standard for consecutive triumphs, with the reigning league MVP tallying 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting along with eight rebounds and eight assists. Dwyane Wade added 19 points, with Shane Battier netting eight of his 11 after halftime.
"The more you get tested in this league, the better you get as long as you handle it the right way." said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra afterward. "I like that every game we're getting tested."
The Pistons lengthened a streak in the opposite direction, losing for the 10th consecutive outing despite a 23-point, 15-rebound effort from Greg Monroe. Jose Calderon and Kyle Singler each finished with 18 points in the setback.
"I thought our effort was good," Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank remarked. "We had good energy, but I didn't think we were able to sustain it for long. There were some game-time mistakes that we made and turnovers really hurt us."
Miami was down by 27 points at one stage in Wednesday's remarkable 98-95 comeback win at Cleveland and topped Boston on Monday after trailing by as many as 17, and got off to a sluggish beginning in this one as well.
The Pistons shot a scorching 63.2 percent in the opening quarter and built a 28-20 lead near the conclusion of the period following a 10-2 run. Their advantage reached 11 points when Calderon buried a trey and then hit a free throw after Wade was assessed a technical foul with 4:25 left in the half, capping a 6-0 swing that put Detroit ahead by a 48-37 count.
"It's an area we need to address," said Spoelstra of his team's recent slow starts. "This team has shown for three years that when there's a particular aspect of the game we're not playing the way we're capable of, we address it, we work on it and we try to improve on it."
Miami began to close the gap prior to the intermission, however, outscoring the Pistons by a 14-6 margin over the final 3 1/2 minutes of the second quarter and moving within 54-51 at halftime on Wade's 3-pointer with 5.1 seconds left.
The Heat then turned up the defensive intensity after the break, limiting Detroit to a 5-of-19 success rate on field goals and forcing six turnovers during the third quarter. Wade scored six points during an 8-0 spurt that put Miami up 60-59 near the midway stage of the frame, and after the teams traded the lead several times, Battier sent Miami in front to stay by burying a 3- pointer that made the score 70-68 in the final minute of the session.
That basket kick-started another 8-0 sequence that extended the Heat's lead to seven in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, and Miami put the game away with an 11-0 tear later on.
James scored off a Norris Cole feed to cap the deciding push, which gave the Heat a comfortable 92-76 lead with 5:19 to go.
Miami shot 62.5 percent (20-of-32) from the floor in the second half ... The Pistons are mired in their longest winless stretch since an 11-game skid from Mar. 13-Apr. 3, 2010 and have now dropped seven in a row on the road ... Miami center Chris Bosh managed just five points on 1-of-7 shooting ... The Heat topped Detroit for the ninth time in the last 10 meetings between the clubs.