March 22, 2013 at 9:48 am

Terry Foster

Pistons hope to cool Heat streak

Mario Chalmers, left, and LeBron James and the rest of the Heat players are focusing on the playoffs, not the streak. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Auburn Hills -- Good luck finding someone besides Lawrence Frank who believes the Pistons can beat the Heat tonight at American Airlines Arena.

For roughly two months, the Heat have been playing for history.

The Pistons? They appear to be playing out the string.

The Heat enter tonight's game fresh off a 98-95 victory that extended its winning streak to 24 games.

But the Heat players insist they are not chasing history — 33 consecutive games the 1972 Lakers.

"We've maintained the entire time that this is about standard of play," forward Shane Battier said. "This is about sharpening who we are as we march toward the playoffs. That's all that matters.

"The wins have been a great byproduct and great copy for everybody and great stories. But it's about our standard of play and improving and building momentum for what is a larger goal for us."

The goal for the Pistons tonight is simple: Don't get embarrassed, which has been the norm during their nine-game skid.

Believing in a win

There are no tangible goals for the Pistons that matter to fans.

Frank simply says he wants his team to get better. That hardly has been the case.

During their skid, the Pistons are losing by an average of 17.5 points.

Want some more numbers?

The Pistons are allowing 107.8 points — they've have given up 100 points eight times. The Pistons are averaging 90.3.

Opponents are shooting 51.1 percent. The Pistons are at 43.8.

"We better have the belief we are going win," Frank said of tonight's game. "If not, then why go?

"You have the belief you are going to put yourself in the position to win. Somebody is going to beat them. Why not us?"

Beating the Heat

The Pistons have beaten the Heat — at The Palace in December.

"We have beaten them once so it is not like we are selling a dream," Frank said. "You have to play a great game and give yourself a chance. What I would hate is to have a team conceding defeat without ever stepping on the floor."

But, Dwyane Wade was suspended for that game, and Miami was not as obsessed about destroying everything in sight.

Everything is working now. LeBron James is the best player in the game. And the role players are doing their job.

The Pistons? Well, they're just broken, and the players seem despondent over missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season.

Not a good combination when you play a team on a mission.

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