Committing 19 turnovers and shooting 26.3 percent on free throws is hardly the recipe for NBA success.
Yet the Heat nearly survived both realities, leading Detroit by five in the fourth quarter Friday, before succumbing 98-93 at Little Caesar’s Arena.
Down by 14 at halftime and playing without leading scorer Josh Richardson (who was ill), the Heat staged a furious second-half rally, fueled in part by Tyler Johnson, who scored 11 of his 16 in the third quarter and Dwyane Wade, who was brilliant late but missed a potential game-tying three.
After a Wade layup pulled Miami to within 92-91 with 41 seconds left, the Pistons got three offensive rebounds, with Zaza Pachulia tipping in the final one to put Detroit up three with 26 seconds to go. Wade’s layup with 18 seconds cut the deficit back to one, but two Reggie Jackson free throws pushed it back to three.
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Then Wade missed a contested three with six seconds left – he thought he was fouled – and Blake Griffin (32 points) sealed the Pistons victory with two free throws.
The Heat squandered a chance to win on a night Detroit lost the NBA’s leading rebounder, Andre Drummond, for good with a nasal injury after just seven minutes. But Miami was undone partly by 5 for 19 free throw shooting, including 0 for 8 by Hassan Whiteside, who was limited to 19 minutes (none down the stretch) on an eight-point, 10-rebound night.
Wade kept the Heat afloat late, finishing with 20 points on 10 for 14 shooting and eight assists.
Miami got contributions from Bam Adebayo (9 points on 4 for 4 shooting and six boards), Justise Winslow (15 points, 9 rebounds), Rodney McGruder (11 points) and James Johnson (five assists in the third quarter rally). Miami dropped to 21-22.