|Detroit Pistons' Greg Monroe (10) fouls Miami Heats' Ronny Turiaf (21) during the first half of a NBA basketball game in Miami, Sunday, April 8, 2012. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)|
Without Wade, Heat ease past Pistons, 98-75
James Jones scored 18 on 6-for-8 shooting from 3-point range for Miami, which played without Dwyane Wade for the 11th time this season. Wade sat out with right ankle soreness, which the team said was caused by an awkward landing on a missed dunk attempt against Memphis on Friday night.
The Heat are now 10-1 when Wade is sidelined this season, and are 18-1 in their last 19 home games.
Detroit rookie Brandon Knight, playing as a pro in the city where he was born for the first time, scored 16 for the Pistons. Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey added 11 apiece for Detroit.
Miami's win, combined with Chicago's overtime loss at New York earlier Sunday, pulled the Heat (40-15) within two games of the Bulls (43-14) for the best record in the Eastern Conference. The teams have two more head-to-head meetings, the first of those in Chicago on Thursday night.
Up next for Miami: The Boston Celtics visit on Tuesday, barely a week after dealing the Heat a 19-point loss.
Besides Wade's absence, there were two lineup issues of note for Miami. First, Mike Miller returned after missing 14 games with a sprained left ankle. Secondly, with slumping Norris Cole out of the rotation Sunday until the final minutes in part because of a 2-for-21 slump, Jones got meaningful minutes again.
He made them count, too.
Detroit led 21-19 after a sleepy first quarter -- the teams combined to shoot 1 for 12 from 3-point range in the opening 12 minutes -- but James gave the Heat a boost from long range to get the offense going in the second.
Jones made his first three 3-point attempts in the second quarter, after not making a single first-half basket since March 20, helping spark a 31-point period by Miami. A 15-5 run midway through the second, capped by a putback dunk by James, put Miami up 42-32 with 3:40 left.
The margin was still 10 at halftime, before Detroit's offense went from cool to downright cold.
The Pistons started 1 for 10 from the floor in the first 9 minutes of the second half, and that drought eliminated any guesswork regarding the outcome as Miami turned a 10-point halftime lead into a 22-point cushion. James had nine points in what was a 17-5 run to start the third quarter, the run ending when James found Shane Battier under the basket for a layup that put Miami up 67-45.
Ronny Turiaf had two blocked shots and a steal in that start-of-third push by Miami, including swatting away a dunk attempt by Tayshaun Prince.
And if all that wasn't bad enough, the fourth quarter started even worse for the Pistons.
They missed their first eight shots from the floor, Miami scored the first nine points of the final quarter -- all with James on the bench -- and a layup by Mario Chalmers made it 78-54 with 9:23 left.
Cole checked in for the first time with 4:32 left. By the time there was 1:07 remaining, he had his second double-digit scoring game since March 6, finishing with 10.
Notes: It was the third time Knight played against his "hometown" team, but the first time in South Florida. Born in Miami, Knight was a star at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, and dozens of people showed up early wearing T-shirts bearing both his name and that of the school. ... James' first free throw attempt Sunday was the 6,000th of his career. He started 0 for 4 from the line. ... It was the fourth time this season Jones started at least 3 for 3 in the first half from 3-point range. ... Shane Battier, who started for Wade, had a season-high five assists. And Turiaf's nine rebounds were his high since joining the Heat.