Caron Butler scored 22 points, Rasual Butler added 16 and Miami
survived some last-minute jitters Tuesday to snap a season-high
six-game losing streak by beating the Detroit Pistons 88-85.
Miami won despite missing six of eight free throws in the final
1:05. Detroit's Jon Barry was short with a fallaway 30-footer at
the buzzer that would have forced an overtime.
Playing again without starters Eddie Jones and Travis Best, the
Heat snapped Detroit's five-game road winning streak. Jones has
missed six games and Best seven because of ankle sprains, and while
both are day-to-day, they're expected to miss the game Wednesday night at Indiana.
''We're doing it without two of our key guys,'' center Brian
Grant said. ''It's giving the young guys an opportunity to step up,
and they did that tonight.''
Caron Butler shot 8-for-14 and added eight rebounds and four
assists in 44 minutes.
''With Eddie and Travis out, he has been given a lot more
opportunity,'' coach Pat Riley said. ''Balls gravitate to him. I
would have to say he's emerging a little more with the obvious
Rasual Butler sank two free throws with 17.7 seconds left for
the game's final points. But Anthony Carter, Vladimir Stepania and
Rasual Butler missed two free throws each down the stretch, giving
Detroit two late chances to tie.
''When you miss six free throws, you put yourself in jeopardy,''
Riley said. ''We get paralyzed as a young team, and we wait for the
game to end, and it isn't going to end unless you make it end.''
After Detroit's Chauncey Billups missed an open 3-point try with
five seconds left, Rasual Butler missed two free throws, giving the
Pistons the ball again with 4.7 seconds to go. Barry inbounded to
Chucky Atkins, who passed back to Barry, who missed a desperation
''I was kind of backing up and wasn't going into the shot,''
Barry said. ''But it shouldn't come down to that. We let them back
Detroit led 51-43 at halftime.
The Miami victory came in its first game back from a winless
five-game trip. The six consecutive defeats had all been by double
digits, tying a franchise record.
''They had a rough trip, and we knew they'd be up for this,''
LaPhonso Ellis had 12 points and Stepania 10 in a reserve role
for Miami. Detroit's reserves were outscored by the opposing bench
for only the fourth time this season.
Free throws kept the Pistons in the game early. They went
17-for-17 in the first quarter and still trailed 29-26.
Detroit was down 35-31 before beginning a 17-2 run that included
two 3-pointers by Robinson and one each by Barry and Atkins.
Ellis sank back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Heat their first
lead of the second half at 65-62, but Billups responded with a
3-pointer, and it was 65-all after three periods.
Mike James made a 3-pointer to put the Heat ahead 78-71 with
seven minutes left, and Rasual Butler hit a 3-pointer to make it
84-79 with 2:30 to go.
The game marked the start of a stretch where the Heat play
10 of 13 games at home. ... Riley said rookie Caron Butler deserves
to be shooting 14 or 15 free throws a game. ''He absolutely gets
hammered,'' Riley said. ''He absolutely gets no calls.'' ... Riley
was called for a technical foul in the first quarter. ... Wallace
has 53 rebounds in three games against the Heat this season.