Energized Pistons hold off Heat, 92-88; even series at 1
By Larry Lage
By Larry Lage
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Detroit Pistons got off to a great start, had a double-digit lead with less than a minute left and barely hung on.
Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal were spectacular for the Miami Heat.
Ultimately, however, all that matters is that the Eastern Conference finals are even.
Tayshaun Prince tied a career playoff high with 24 points and had 11 rebounds, Richard Hamilton scored 22 points, and Detroit bounced back — as usual — and beat Miami, 92-88, last night in Game 2.
"They came in here and won a game, now it's our turn to go down there and do the same thing," Detroit point guard Chauncey Billups said.
Game 3 is tomorrow night in Miami.
The Heat almost took a stunning and commanding 2-0 lead with a frantic rally — scoring 17 points in the final 1:46 after trailing by 12.
"I'm going to go to that offense in the beginning of the night," Miami coach Pat Riley joked.
Wade had 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while O'Neal was dominant with 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
"I've got a busted lip and a black eye," Detroit center Ben Wallace said after defending O'Neal for much of the night. "But you do what you have to do."
O'Neal wants to inflict more damage.
"I think we need to focus on getting it inside," O'Neal said. "We took way too many jump shots."
Detroit, which led by as much as 14 points in the first half, went ahead 57-39 early in the second half on Hamilton's layup after Billups scored his first points on a 3-pointer and a layup.
A 10-2 run pulled Miami within six points midway through the fourth quarter. Rasheed Wallace's 3-pointer gave the Pistons an 81-71 lead with 2:41 left.
While thousands of fans headed home, Miami wasn't ready to concede even though it trailed 85-75 with just under a minute to go.
Wade's 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds left made it 90-88 after Prince was called for a 5-second violation on an inbounds pass, though the lanky forward said he called timeout.
"We were desperate — we should've played that way from the start," Wade said.
The Pistons sealed the victory when Billups connected on two free throws and Lindsey Hunter made a steal.
"When you start playing not to lose, you don't play aggressive," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "You wait for the clock to keep rolling."
The Heat had won four straight road games and five in a row overall.
Billups had 18 points and eight assists, Rasheed Wallace scored 16 and Ben Wallace added nine points and 12 rebounds.
"When we play that way as a team, we're tough to beat," Ben Wallace said.
Miami beat Detroit, 91-86, in Game 1 and snatched home-court advantage away from the top-seeded team in the NBA playoffs. The Heat's new-look surrounding cast came through in that win — while its superstars were in foul trouble — with Antoine Walker, Gary Payton and Jason Williams combining for 41 points.
In Game 2, that trio contributed just 25 points.
"You have to have four or five guys play well," Riley said.
Miami led 11-0 in the series opener, while Detroit missed its first six shots playing two days after being pushed to seven games by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Game 2 provided a stark contrast, with the Pistons appearing to have much more energy — until the final minutes.
Detroit got off to such a good start that offensively challenged Ben Wallace was outscoring the Heat 7-6 midway through the first quarter. Prince made a 3-pointer that capped a 13-0 run to put Detroit up 18-6.
The Pistons led 25-12 after making 56 percent of their shots and holding Miami to 25 percent. It was the Heat's lowest scoring quarter of the playoffs, and the fewest points a team has scored against the Pistons in the first quarter this postseason.
Detroit had success in the first quarter keeping Wade out of the lane, forcing him to settle for three missed jumpers, and he had two points on free throws. He had 13 of his 25 points in the first quarter of Game 1 after making all six of his shots.
Wade and O'Neal combined for 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting in the first half, while the rest of the Heat had just 11 points after missing 14 of 18 shots.