Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/20

Game 1: Wednesday, November 20th
Game 2: Friday, November 22nd
Game 3: Tuesday, January 14th
Game 4: Monday, February 17th

Pistons 85

(25-12, 12-8 away)

Heat 88

(13-25, 7-10 home)

    7:30 PM ET, January 14, 2003

    AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    DET 26 25 14 2085
    MIA 29 14 22 2388

    Top Performers

    Detroit: R. Hamilton 24 Pts, 2 Reb, 1 Ast

    Miami: C. Butler 22 Pts, 8 Reb, 4 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

    Two rookies make Heat's future look promising

    MIAMI (AP) -- Rookies Caron Butler and Rasual Butler showed there might be better days ahead for the Miami Heat.

    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 responsibility.''

    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 try.

    ''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 into this.''

    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,'' Billups said.

    Richard Hamilton scored 24 points for Detroit, while Billups and Clifford Robinson had 18 apiece. Ben Wallace, who had a triple-double against the Heat earlier this season, grabbed 12 rebounds but did not score.

    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.

    Game notes

    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.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 85 88
    FGM-FGA 25-74 (.338) 34-69 (.493)
    3PM-3PA 9-26 (.346) 4-10 (.400)
    FTM-FTA 26-30 (.867) 16-26 (.615)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-41 8-38
    Assists 15 15
    Turnovers 13 12
    Steals 4 9
    Blocks 4 5
    Fast Break Points 2 3
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 25 (2/0)

    Top Performers

    Richard Hamilton Hamilton
    Points: 24
    Reb: 2
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Caron Butler Butler
    Points: 22
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 1