Pistons beat Heat to finish off perfect homestand
DETROIT — Already enjoying an outstanding homestand going into Sunday, the Detroit Pistons went ahead and made it downright perfect.
Tobias Harris led five players in double figures with 25 points to help the Pistons earn a 112-103 win over the Miami Heat and finish unbeaten on the five-game homestand.
The second-best team in the Eastern Conference, the Pistons improved to 10-3 as they prepare to embark on a three-game road trip that will start on Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
“You just move on to the next chapter,” Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Nine of 11 on the road and the next three games are on the road against teams that you beat at home, so now they want back at you. The challenges just keep mounting, but you put wins the bank. Our guys on this home stand did a helluva job.”
The Pistons also won for the eighth time in nine games in continuing a torrid start that has them among the NBA’s biggest pleasant surprises early in the season.
“Other than the (Golden State) Warriors win, this was our best win,” Van Gundy said. “(Miami) played so well.”
Avery Bradley scored 24 points, Reggie Jackson had 17 points, rookie Luke Kennard scored a career-high 14 points, backup point guard Ish Smith scored 11 points and Andre Drummond added 17 rebounds for Detroit.
Of the key contributors for the Pistons, the performance by Kennard was most noteworthy.
The team’s first-round selection in this past June’s NBA Draft (12th overall), Kennard scored nine of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Most importantly to Van Gundy was the defense and five rebounds Kennard provided as well.
“He was in the battle fighting his butt off,” Van Gundy said. “I was happy with everyone, but I was really, really happy with him.”
Kennard after the game was in a spot he probably hasn’t grown accustomed to this season, which was mobbed by reporters wanting to get his thoughts.
“I want to be a player that is able to make those plays,” Kennard said. “If my shot is not falling, I want to be able to make an impact in other ways.”
Detroit shot 48.3 percent from the floor overall (42-87), 50 percent from 3-point range (14 of 28) and outrebounded Miami, 54-39.
While the Pistons were finishing off a perfect homestand, the Heat (6-7) ended a grueling six-game road trip with a respectable 3-3 record.
“I mean, we grew certainly, from when we went out on this road trip 13 days ago and I think we’re a better ball club now,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Ultimately that’s what you want. Of course right now, we feel like we could have finished the road trip a little bit better. We’ll be able to maintain the proper perspective on this as long as we’re continuing to get better, and like I said, we know pretty clearly what our identity is now and what a successful formula is for us, what type of pace we need to play at, what type of game we need to play. We weren’t able to do that tonight.”
Hassan Whiteside had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Goran Dragic scored 18 points, Dion Waiters had 16 points and Josh Richardson added 15 points to lead Miami, which went 13 of 37 from 3-point range.
The Heat, who were coming off a win in Utah on Friday night, attempted 16 shots from behind the 3-point line in the first quarter alone.
“In the first half, they were much more to our liking inside-out, extra ball movement good to great,” Spoelstra said. “The second half, they really stepped up and flattened us out, made those threes tougher at the end of the clock without any kind of dribble penetration, paint penetration or attack penetration.”
Miami led 58-55 at halftime and then started strong in the third quarter, taking a 73-62 lead with 7:03 remaining in the third.
The Pistons answered back, going on a 17-5 run to take a 79-78 lead with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
Detroit took an 83-81 lead into the fourth quarter, and then built its lead to 93-86 with 9:17 remaining thanks to 10 consecutive points from bench players.
Miami cut Detroit’s lead back to one at 93-92 with 7:55 left in the game, but the Pistons countered with a 13-2 run to take a 105-94 lead with 3:58 remaining.
The Heat couldn’t get their deficit closer than seven points the rest of the way.
NOTES: The Pistons played without F Jon Leuer (left ankle sprain) and F Stanley Johnson (strained right hip flexor). ... The game was a homecoming for rookie Heat G Derrick Walton Jr., who grew up in suburban Detroit and played at Michigan. ... The 9-3 start for Detroit through 12 games marked its best start since the 2005-06 season when it went 10-2. ... Miami played an Eastern Conference opponent on the road for the first time since a season-opening loss at Orlando on Oct. 18. ... The 11 road games in November for the Heat are the most on the road the team has ever played in November. ... Pistons C Andre Drummond became the third player in 40 years to grab 12 rebounds or more in the first 12 games of the season. Moses Malone in 1978-79 and Kevin Love in 2011-12 were the others. ... In Friday’s 84-74 win at Utah, the Heat held the Jazz to four field goals in the second half, the fewest allowed in a half in team history. ... This was the first of four meetings of the season between the Pistons and Heat. The teams next play Jan. 3 in Miami.