The Miami Heat played three quarters of mediocre basketball Wednesday night, but still pulled out a 6-point victory in Detroit. Down 81-73 after three quarters to the Pistons, Miami opened the fourth quarter with a 15-0 run, holding the Pistons scoreless for the first 5:36 of the quarter. Miami never looked back after taking a 88-81 lead, finishing with a 100-94 win.
Miami took an 8-4 lead to start the game, but Detroit got hot and stayed hot, shooting 60% in the first half to take a 55-53 lead. Miami closed the second quarter with a 7-2 run to keep it close, but Detroit controlled the game for most of the first half.
This continued in the third quarter, but came to a halt immediately thereafter. All of a sudden the Pistons could not buy a break, missing their first six shots of the fourth quarter and committing six fouls with two turnovers. Miami capitalized with contributions from the Big Three and the bench.
Adding extra significance to the win was the Boston Celtic's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, which allows the Heat to pull within a game and a half of the Celtics for the second playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
Making his first start in place of injured starting PG Mario Chalmers, Mike Bibby proved to be a defensive liability against Detroit PG Rip Hamilton. In the 26 minutes Bibby played, Miami was outscored by 13 points. His counterpart Hamilton led all scorers with 27 points. The Heat spent most of the fourth quarter with either Jones or Eddie House playing guard opposite Wade, allowing James to run the point from the forward position.
Disregarding the play of Bibby, the only other downside to the Heat's win was the 6-point margin of victory. Despite their fourth-quarter comeback, the Heat remain 6-13 in games decided by 5 points or less. That may be a mostly meaningless stat in the grand scheme of things, but doubtless Heat fans will eventually grow tired of the media endlessly parroting that record as proof Miami can't win a title.
David Hill is a Miami native and former owner of a youth replica Rony Seikaly jersey.