Pistons freeze Heat for fifth straight triumph

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — Game by game, the Pistons are making believers — or maybe they should be.

They’re cementing their status as one of the surprise teams in the NBA and made another bold statement with a sweep in their five-game home stand.

They finished the job with a scoring jolt from Tobias Harris and a timely boost from their bench, taking a 112-103 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday at Little Caesars Arena. It’s their fifth straight win — their longest streak since 2015-16 — and best string of games, eight wins in nine games, in three years.

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Harris finished with 25 points, Avery Bradley added 24 and Reggie Jackson had 17 for the Pistons (10-3), who are off to their best start since their 11-2 record in 2005-06.

After road wins over the Warriors and Clippers, maybe they are for real.

BOX SCORE: Pistons 112, Heat 103

“Other than the Warriors win, this was our best win. They played so well; that was a hell of a basketball game and a lot of back-and-forth,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “All I know is our guys got down double figures in the second half and kept playing, kept fighting and kept staying with the game. It was a game of a lot of runs and I was really proud of our guys.”

The Heat (6-7) led, 73-62, with 7:05 left in the third quarter following three straight baskets from Hassan Whiteside (20 points and 12 rebounds). Bradley answered with a 3-pointer and after Justise Winslow missed a dunk, Bradley hit another 3-pointer in transition to trim the deficit to five.

Harris helped ignite a 9-2 run to tie it at 77 with a pair of free throws, a 3-pointer and a drive and dunk. Harris punctuated the comeback with a dunk.

The Pistons led by two entering the fourth, but James Johnson converted a three-point play to regain the lead. The Pistons answered with a 10-2 run, keyed by the reserves, with a 3-pointer by Anthony Tolliver, two baskets by Ish Smith (11 points and seven assists) and a jumper by rookie Luke Kennard for a 93-86 lead.

“It feels great. We’ve won five straight at home — can’t get much better than that, honestly,” said Kennard, who had a season-best 14 points.

“We stayed really poised, we really stayed together. We had guys that made plays all around the court and everybody made an impact when they got in, and that’s what we needed.”

The Pistons bench outscored Miami’s, 38-30, including nine from Tolliver, all on 3-pointers. Miami answered again with six straight points, with a basket by Whiteside, a steal and lay-in by Dion Waiters (16 points) and two Johnson free throws.

The Pistons responded with the next 11 points, as Kennard connected on a floater and followed with a 3-pointer, Smith added a three-point play, Jackson a floater and Andre Drummond (eight points and 17 rebounds) split a pair of free throws for a 103-92 margin.

Bradley helped keep the Heat at bay, with seven points down the stretch, including a three-point play to make it 112-102 with 44.3 seconds left.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard