For a second consecutive night, the Miami Heat made sure they weren’t going to let their offensive rebounding woes deter them from a victory.
Miami allowed 17 offensive rebounds to the Detroit Pistons Sunday night, only a few hours after also yielding 17 offensive rebounds to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but dominated at every other aspect of the game, the scoreboard most importantly, to earn a 110-95 victory that capped off a weekend sweep of a back-to-back set.
Also similar to the Heat’s win over Minnesota was LeBron James’ flirtation with a triple-double, this time coming up an assist and three rebounds short to go along with his 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
LeBron scored 19 of his points in the first three quarters, leading throughout in a contest where the Heat never trailed. They owned a double-digit lead within the first five minutes, six seconds of the first quarter and then proceeded to stave off every Pistons comeback run that was attempted.
Two points was as close as Detroit would get to overtaking Miami, including late in the first when Miami held a 21-19 lead. The Heat, however, ended the first on an 8-2 run, facilitated by a pair of threes from Rashard Lewis, and took a seven-point lead into the second.
At this point, Detroit began to impose its will in the paint, as did their strength in having borderline rotation players make shots. Charlie Villanueva and Jonas Jerebko made the first eight Detroit points of the second, cutting the lead to two early in the second, but saw that met with a 9-2 Heat run.
Miami’s lead would be cut to three with five minutes remaining in the half following a Peyton Siva layup. Each Heat bucket was seemingly matched by a higher-percentage putback by the Pistons as Miami mustered only a six-point lead into the half, despite shooting well over 60 percent.
But then the Heat entered that mode where they wanted to stop toying with their opponent and just go in for the kill.
Following an exchange of a pair of free throws, the Heat ran off an 8-0 run, led by threes from Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen, to build a double-digit lead Miami would not relinquish. They would boost the lead to 20 for the first time with three minutes remaining, following a three by Roger Mason.
Detroit was limited to only 17 third quarter points after scoring 32 in the second. The second quarter was far more reminiscent of their 107-97 win over Miami earlier in the week when they also controlled the paint and the offensive rebounding battle.
Unlike then, however, they failed to make their jumpers as well. The 7-of-16 they shot from three against Miami in their win didn’t measure up well with the 7-of-20 they shot tonight.
Detroit did most of its work in the paint, more specifically right near the rim, where they scored 56 points in the paint and outrebounded the Heat by ten. Once again, it was Andre Drummond who led the charge under the rim, recording 17 points and 14 rebounds, eight on the offensive glass.
Judging by this game alone, the Pistons offense seems to be little more than having Drummond and Greg Monroe, who finished with four of his seven boards coming off the offensive glass, camp out under the rim and put back the missed jumpers of Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith.
While they survived on a healthy diet of offensive rebounds, the Heat simply played offense the way it was meant to be played, shooting 56 percent from the field and having 26 of their 40 field-goals come off assists.
Miami also shot 39 percent on 28 three-point attempts, putting an end to a recent string of poor perimeter shooting.
The Heat were forced to play without Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley for a second straight night, with Ray Allen taking over starting responsibilities for Wade, and Roger Mason, Jr. stepping up into the rotation.
Both decisions paid off well. Allen continued to look revitalize at the age of 38, scoring 18 points on only ten shots and making two of his five three-point attempts. It was the second start of Allen’s Heat tenure, the previous one coming in Miami’s loss to Chicago.
I’m still convinced he could play well into his 40’s when he makes shots like this:
Mason also performed well and played as if he was at the center of trade rumors or even the release of his non-guaranteed deal. With Beasley out, the coaching staff gave him plenty of time, 22 minutes actually, to showcase why there’s no need for any outside talent.
He responded with 4-of-6 three-point shooting, taking advantage of a couple of open opportunities and even making a pull-up three-pointer in transition. He and Rashard Lewis led the three-point barrage for the Heat, combining to shoot 7-of-11 from beyond the arc.
It was obvious Miami wasn’t taking their opponent lightly as they forced 17 turnovers and 42 percent shooting. It wouldn’t have come off as surprising had they wound up locked in a wire-to-wire battle, what with the Indiana Pacers being the next team on the schedule.
Indiana is coming off a 3-2 road trip that featured a blowout wins over San Antonio and the Los Angeles Clippers, but ended with a blowout loss in Oklahoma City. At 18-3, they’re the league’s best team record-wise, and currently hold a two-game lead over the Heat for the top spot in the league.
The game will be played in Indiana, but they meet up again a little over a week later with a contest in Miami.