James drops 29 on Pistons as Miami grabs its 25th straight win
10:27 PM, Mar 22, 2013
12:24 AM, Mar 23, 2013
MIAMI (AP) - Another game, another double-digit rally for the Miami Heat.
And most importantly, another win.
LeBron James scored 29 points, Dwyane Wade added 19 and the Heat extended their winning streak to 25 games by pulling away in the second half and beating the Detroit Pistons 103-89 on Friday night.
Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers scored 11 apiece for Miami, which shook off yet another slow start to move within eight of tying the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers for the longest winning streak in NBA history. The Heat also won at home for the 16th straight time.
James added eight rebounds and eight assists for Miami, whose magic number for clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference is now three.
Greg Monroe finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit, which dropped its 10th straight game. Jose Calderon had 18 points and seven assists, most of that coming in the first half for the Pistons, who also got 18 points and eight rebounds from Kyle Singler.
The Heat dug their way out of a 17-point hole - and a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter alone - to win in Boston on Monday, and a 27-point, third-quarter deficit to prevail in Cleveland on Wednesday.
No real dramatics were needed this time: Detroit led by 11 in the second quarter, but the second half was pretty much all Miami. The Heat outscored Detroit 52-35 after halftime.
"It doesn't matter who we're playing. This time of year, it's going to be a dangerous team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's going to be a team absolutely urgent, desperate for a playoff position or a team with nothing to lose, no pressure. Either way, you have to impose your will."
That did not happen, at least not in the early going.
For the fifth time in the last six games, the Heat trailed after the first quarter. Detroit made 12 of its first 18 shots - 67 percent - and took a 28-20 lead fueled by an 8-0 run late in the opening period.
Detroit's lead went to 11 in the second quarter, with Calderon making all three of his field-goal attempts, all from 3-point range. He wound up with 16 points and six assists at halftime, just the second player to have a first-half stat line like that against the Heat this season. There were times it seemed Detroit was getting whatever it wanted.
Nonetheless, the Heat were down just 54-51 at the break.
Everything changed in the third, and as is usually the case with Miami, defense was the key. The Pistons scored 28 points in the first quarter, 26 more in the second - and 22 in the first 19 minutes of the second half.
A lull like that was just too much to overcome, especially when the Heat took off on a 19-8 run to start the fourth quarter and put away the game.
After getting fouled in the open floor and playfully crashing into the basket support midway through the fourth, James took a playful swing at Wade and clearly seemed relaxed even though the Heat were up by only nine.
It was like he knew the capper was on the way. When play resumed, James set Wade up for a basket that gave Miami its first double-digit lead of the night, then threaded a pocket pass to Chris Bosh for a three-point play and a 90-76 lead with 5:47 remaining.
James walked to the far end of the floor, popped out his mouth guard and watched the replay on the overhead video board, then exhaled deeply.
The streak lived. Again.
James picked up his fourth straight Eastern Conference player of the month award, this one for February, in a brief halftime ceremony. ... The Heat signed F Juwan Howard for the remainder of the season Friday. ... South Florida native Brandon Knight (left ankle) remained sidelined for Detroit. ... The Heat played a tribute video to the Atlantic Coast Conference champion Miami Hurricanes during the game, along with highlights of their NCAA tournament win from earlier Friday. ... Pistons reserve Kim English fouled out with 23.5 seconds left in the third quarter with no points in 12:05 of playing time. The only other players with a zero-point, six-foul night in fewer minutes this season are New York's Kurt Thomas (9:40) and Toronto's Amir Johnson (9:26). ... Golf's Greg Norman was in attendance, along with child abuse prevention advocate Lauren Book, who's on her annual awareness walk from Key West to Tallahassee.
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