The Detroit Pistons survived a 12-point third quarter and a nose injury to center Andre Drummond to gain a key victory Friday night.
Blake Griffin’s near triple-double of 32 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists allowed the Pistons to escape with a 98-93 victory over the Miami Heat at Little Caesars Arena.
The Heat were missing guard Josh Richardson (illness) and the Pistons ran to a 16-point lead late in the first half.
But the Heat held the Pistons to 12 points in the third quarter and scored 30, taking a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
But key 3-pointers from Luke Kennard (22 points) and Reggie Jackson allowed the Pistons to take an 81-78 lead with 5:35 remaining.
The Pistons never trailed again.
But the Heat (21-22) kept fighting, and the Pistons needed a Zaza Pachulia tip-in to take a 94-91 lead with 26.7 seconds remaining.
After a Dwyane Wade layup, Jackson hit free throws to give the Pistons a 96-93 lead with 11 seconds left.
Wade missed a contested 3-pointer and the Pistons won their third in four games.
In his last game at Detroit, the three-time NBA champion scored 20 points off the bench, shooting 10-for-14 with eight assists in 28 minutes. Wade, who turned 37 on Thursday, announced in September he would be retiring after the season.
The Pistons (20-24) move to one game behind the Charlotte Hornets for the Eastern Conference eighth and final playoff spot. They are 1½ games behind the Heat for the seventh seed.
Drummond left at the 4:46 mark of the first quarter with what the Pistons announced as a nasal injury, after taking an elbow from Heat forward James Johnson.
Drummond remained on the floor for minutes and his nose was bleeding.
He was first examined on the bench before heading the locker room.
Good news for Ish
Backup point guard Ish Smith raised fears in the first quarter.
He entered the game at the 5:12 mark, but exited nearly two minutes later.
He didn’t go to the bench, but went straight to the locker room with an angry expression.
Smith recently missed 19 games with a torn right adductor and it was instantly feared he had had re-injured himself.
But the Pistons said Smith felt tightness in the same area, but he was held out for precautionary reasons.
The Pistons started strong.
Reggie Bullock (19 points) hit his first three shots, scoring eight points to stake the Pistons to an early 10-4 lead.
Griffin quickly joined the party, scoring 11 points in leading the Pistons to a 30-17 lead after the first quarter.
The Pistons settled for a 53-39 lead at halftime.
Contact Vince Ellis: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @vincent_ellis56.