Pistons scorched by Heat in finale, finish with second-worst record at 20-52

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — The long losing season is finally over. 

The Pistons struggled through the 72-game slate and finished with a tie for the second-fewest wins in a season in franchise history.

The numbers don’t matter as much as the product on the court, which has fans encouraged for the future. Sunday’s 120-107 loss to the Miami Heat at Little Caesars Arena wasn’t a clear sign of that optimism, but it can serve as a data point for where the Pistons will pick up next season, with a good summer of progress.

BOX SCORE: Heat 120, Pistons 107

The loss is the fifth straight for the Pistons (20-52), their longest skid in a season that started what the front office hopes will be a big turnaround for the franchise, with some internal growth and development for the young core.

Pistons' Jahlil Okafor scores over Heat's Tyler Herro in the second quarter.

The loss also locks the Pistons into the second-worst record in the NBA, and they will be tied for the best odds (14%) of getting the No. 1 draft pick entering the lottery next month.

Saddiq Bey had 22 points, Josh Jackson added 17 points and Hamidou Diallo had 15 points for the Pistons, who finished 13-23 at home.

More: Wojo: Pistons’ record doesn’t show it, but Troy Weaver weaving a plan with real promise

The outcome of the game wasn’t in doubt from midway in the first quarter, when the Heat jumped out to a 20-9 lead and then steamed ahead, 32-13, at the end of the period. Nemanja Bjelica had 11 of his 21 points in the opening quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first three minutes.

The Heat (40-32), who already had clinched the sixth seed in the playoffs, had a 15-4 run, with 3-pointers by Bjelica and Duncan Robinson (Michigan), a pair of baskets by Tyler Herro (16 points and 11 assists), a lay-in by KZ Okpala (17 points) and a 3-pointer by Gabe Vincent (15 points and 10 assists).

The Pistons had a 13-6 run early in the second quarter, but Precious Achiuwa (23 points and 10 rebounds) energized the Heat with seven straight points. After a dunk by Max Strus (20 points) and another basket by Achiuwa, the lead was up to 56-33 at the 4:30 mark.

The Heat had another run and finished the first half with a 69-47 advantage.

In the third quarter, the Pistons didn’t get much closer and the lead ballooned to 27 before they closed out the final minutes.

rod.beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: detnewsRodBeard