Pistons' magic dries up in loss to Heat
Miami — Pistons forward Marcus Morris couldn’t have been expected to keep up his hot shooting for the rest of the season.
And the Pistons could have been expected to keep pulling rabbits out of hats, as they did in their win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.
There was no magic in Miami, as Morris scored just one point, the Pistons defense fell apart again, and the Heat rumbled to a 107-89 victory on Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena.
The Pistons (41-37) benefited from the Bulls’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, staying in eighth place and trimming their magic number to 2 in the East playoff race, with four games to go.
Tobias Harris had 21 points and seven rebounds, Reggie Jackson added 21 points and Andre Drummond 12 points and 13 rebounds.
But Morris’ shooting touch was noticeably absent from an offense that managed just 40 percent from the field and only 24 percent (5-of-21) on 3-pointers. Morris finished 0-of-7 from the field and had a season low with just one point and six turnovers.
In his last 12 games, he was averaging 17.9 points, with 63 percent on 3-pointers.
“He has been playing great, and we haven’t seen him play like that all year. That’s probably got to be the worst game of his NBA career; he couldn’t hang on to the ball,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s just one of those nights. The guy’s been playing great; I’m not going to sit here and kill him, but he had a miserable night.”
It wasn’t just Morris. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was 1-of-6 for two points, Stanley Johnson 1-of-9 for two points. The Heat (45-32) took the lead and never looked back, leading by as many as 23 in the second half.
“They just dominated us at both ends of the floor all night, from the start to the finish,” Van Gundy said. “Their effort, their energy, their quickness — everything was better. There wasn’t one thing that we were competitive with.
“They dominated us. It’s a very disappointing effort, but give them credit too; they were great.”
The Pistons had two days off since their last game, but didn’t match the Heat’s burst of energy. Miami jumped to a 25-19 lead, behind eight points — including a pair of 3-pointers — from reserve guard Josh Richardson, who finished with 16.
In the third quarter, the Pistons made a charge after a jumper by Goran Dragic (22 points and eight assists) with Caldwell-Pope’s jumper and another basket by Jackson.
But the Heat rattled off seven straight points, with two free throws by Dwyane Wade (16 points), a steal and dunk by Luol Deng and Richardson’s fourth 3-pointer.
“It was good to see us play with a lot more energy on both ends; (the Pistons) have been playing well,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The Pistons trimmed it again with six straight points, but the Heat put it away, as Dragic finished the quarter with a jumper and a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds remaining, for an 82-63 advantage.
The Pistons never got closer than double digits the rest of the way, with reserves playing the final minutes.
“We definitely didn’t have the result we wanted but all in all, it’s the NBA and you know you’re going to have games like that,” Morris said. “We can’t dwell on it because we play (Wednesday), so we have to go back at it and get one in Orlando.”