Undermanned Pistons hang tough, fall late to Heat, 115-112

Detroit News

Miami — Things can change in a hurry in the NBA, and never as much as this season, with COVID protocols changing rosters day by day.

The Pistons had to adjust to sudden change just before their matchup against the Miami Heat, as four of their rotation players were placed in the league’s health and safety protocols in the hours before tip-off.

Although the Pistons were without starters Isaiah Stewart and Killian Hayes, as well as guards Saben Lee and Rodney McGruder, they stayed close to the Heat, and even led by double digits in the first half.

In the fourth quarter, they couldn’t withstand a late run by the Heat, and they fell in the final seconds of a 115-112 loss on Thursday night at FTX Arena.

The absences pushed Trey Lyles and Cory Joseph into the starting lineup, and they responded with superlative performances. Lyles finished with a career-high 28 points, eight rebounds and four blocks and Joseph 21 points, six rebounds and nine assists for the Pistons (5-26).

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The Pistons had a late lead, 110-105, with 2:40 left after a 3-pointer by Bey, but the Heat rallied behind Kyle Lowry, who scored on consecutive drives. Tyler Herro followed with a 3-pointer with 1:12 left and the Heat regained the lead.

Bey kept the Pistons in it with a fadeaway jumper at the 59.2 mark, to tie it at 112, but Strus hit a tough, contested 3-pointer that put the Heat ahead to stay. Joseph had a good look at a potential tying 3-pointer, but it was off the mark.

The Pistons built a 14-point lead in the first half, but the Heat (20-13) closed within 61-55 at halftime, with an 8-0 run to finish the second quarter. Max Strus got hot from the field, making three straight Miami baskets, including a 3-pointer at the 10:37 mark that matched back-to-back 3-pointers by Joseph and Saddiq Bey (23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists).

BOX SCORE: Heat 115, Pistons 112 

Frank Jackson (19 points) added a 3-pointer after Strus’ conversion to push the lead back to eight. The Heat followed with a 9-2 spurt, with two free throws and a 3-pointer by Gabe Vincent (15 points and seven assists) and a 3-pointer by Lowry.

After a 3-pointer by Frank Jackson and a basket by Lyles, the lead was still four, and another 3-pointer by Lyles kept the momentum going. The Heat answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Strus and Lowry (21 points and six assists) to take their first lead since the first quarter, 81-80.

The Pistons got a three-point play from Jackson, but Heat veteran Udonis Haslem made a big contribution. Haslem, in his 19th season, had seven points in the third quarter, and helped push the Heat, with his three-point play and a turnaround put Miami ahead, 86-85. Lowry finished the third quarter with a drive and finish with 0.1 seconds left and an 88-87 lead heading into the final period.

Herro, who had 20 of 29 points in the first half, picked things up in the fourth quarter. He hit a jumper and after a lay-in by Omer Yurtseven, Herro had a steal and dunk, igniting an 8-0 run and extending the Heat lead to 94-89.



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