Pistons beat Heat with big third quarter, halt 14-game losing skid
Detroit — It was a record that they simply didn’t want.
The Pistons’ 14-game losing streak had tied the single-season franchise record, and facing the Miami Heat, they had a chance to avoid history.
History will have to wait for another day.
The Pistons played a spirited third quarter to push ahead — and unlike several leads during their losing streak, they held on down the stretch in the fourth quarter and embraced a 100-90 victory over the Heat on Sunday night at Little Caesars Arena.
It’s their first victory since Nov. 17, at home against the Indiana Pacers.
Saddiq Bey scored 19 of his 26 points in the second half, playing the role of closer, with Jerami Grant out because of a thumb injury. Hamidou Diallo added 15 points and seven rebounds and Frank Jackson 12 points for the Pistons (5-24).
“It's great to get the monkey off our backs,” Bey said. “We know a lot of our losses have been close possessions and down the stretch, so it's just good to see that if we execute down the stretch, what we can do.
“We have to build off it; we have to keep fighting to win every game and take one day at a time.”
The third quarter proved to be the difference, with the Pistons using a 33-19 advantage to take control of the game before closing it out in the fourth.
The Heat (18-13) had a 48-46 lead after halftime and they added to the lead with a 3-pointer by Kyle Lowry (19 points and 10 assists). Diallo scored on a drive but after a 3-pointer by PJ Tucker, Miami was rolling.
The Pistons countered with another drive by Diallo and a pull-up jumper by Killian Hayes (11 points) to get within two, but the Heat got a dunk from Dewayne Dedmon and two free throws by Lowry make it a 58-56 lead. The Pistons scored the next six, capped by a 3-pointer from Bey, starting a 10-2 run, giving the Pistons their first lead since midway through the second quarter.
“(Bey’s) involved in a lot of things, and he's in a good rhythm shooting the ball,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He's being very decisive instead of thinking about shooting, instead of pump-faking himself out of shots. He's decisive and I think that's the biggest difference.
Hayes sparked the run with a spinning drive to the basket. Two possessions later, he made two free throws to give the Pistons a 62-60 lead. Hayes scored six straight Pistons points and Bey followed with a three-point play, for a 67-62 margin, and Jackson added a 3-pointer, as the Pistons took advantage of the Heat’s cold-shooting streak — they went almost five minutes without a field goal.
Bey had nine points in the quarter, and his second three-point play, followed by a thunderous dunk by Trey Lyles (eight points and six rebounds) gave them an 11-point lead. Without Grant, Bey played the role of closer, with a big second half to get them over the hump.
“I just try to play hard every day but just for me, it's just trusting my work and just trying to play hard,” Bey said. “Whatever the team needs from me and whatever we need from each other, we're comfortable doing, no matter what role, so that was my mentality.”
Max Strus (24 points) ended the run with a basket and Lowry added a free throw to get within eight points, but the Pistons finished the quarter strong with a lay-in by Cory Joseph (nine points and four assists) and a basket by Jackson, for their biggest lead of the game, 79-67, heading into the fourth quarter.
The Heat made a push, with a 10-3 start to the final period, to get within five, but Joseph made another drive. Bey had a jumper and Cunningham a steal and basket to get back to 88-79, but the Heat wouldn’t go away.
Dedmon (11 points) hit another basket and Lowry scored on a drive to stay close, but Bey hit another 3-pointer to push the lead back to eight. After a 3-pointer from Duncan Robinson, Bey converted another 3-pointer, for a 94-86 lead at the 4:02 mark.
In the final stretch, Bey made three free throws and Hayes a 3-pointer to help give the Pistons enough cushion to finish the game and end the losing streak.
The Heat were shorthanded because of injuries, playing without All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, along with Tyler Herro and Markieff Morris.