After Butler missed two free throws that would have iced the game with five seconds remaining, Barry missed a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer, allowing the Miami Heat to snap their season-high six-game losing streak with an 88-85 victory.
Miami led, 86-79, after Vladimir Stepania made a follow-up layup with 1:40 remaining. But Richard Hamilton scored on a three-point play 35 seconds later. After Stepania missed a pair of free throws with 31 seconds left, Chauncey Billups nailed a 3-pointer to get Detroit within 86-85 with 20 seconds to go.
Butler made a pair of free throws to give the Heat a three-point edge with 17 seconds left, but after Billups missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer, Butler missed two from the line, giving the Pistons another chance to tie.
“I was totally disappointed in myself,” Butler said. “I’ve never done that, missed two back-to-back free throws in a three-point game.”
“When you miss six free throws (down the stretch), you put yourself in jeopardy,” Heat coach Pat Riley said. “That’s it. Holding on to a seven- or eight-point lead is simply about making one or two free throws out of six. 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.”
Barry threw the ensuing inbounds pass to Chucky Atkins in the left corner and got the ball back just inside the left hash mark, but his 3-point attempt hit the left side of the rim and bounced away.
Butler scored 16 points and fellow rookie Caron Butler netted 22 for Miami, which shot 49 percent (34-of-69) and limited Detroit to 34 percent shooting (25-of-74).
“We had fun out there,” Caron Butler said of his and Rasual Butler’s play. “We tag-teamed. Players were looking to us. It was fun. They were looking to us to make plays. It was just a beautiful feeling.”
“What a great opportunity for those two guys to step it up in a pressure-cooking situation like Detroit and to be able to come out and play with that kind of poise and confidence. It was a big part of our win tonight,” said Heat forward LaPhonso Ellis, who chipped in 12 points off the bench.
Hamilton contributed 24 points and Billups and Clifford Robinson 18 apiece for the Pistons, who had won their last five road contests.
“This game will be forgotten as soon as I leave the lcoker room, but that does not mean we should not take something from it,” said Robinson, who scored just one point after halftime. “We had the Heat running all over the place with good ball movement and then we stopped moving the ball. They are a prideful team.”
Miami led, 35-31, after a dunk by Stepania with 9:19 left in the second quarter. But Detroit countered with a 20-4 run, which was capped by a 3-pointer from Atkins with 2:39 left in the half.
The Heat scored the last four points of the half to climb within 51-43 and tied the game, 65-65, entering the fourth quarter.
“I guess the decisive thing if you look at the whole game was they had 38 points in the paint and we had 22,” Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. “We were in position at halftime to take control, but they dictated play. It was a disappointing loss to us, but when Miami plays hard they win the game.”
The game was tied at 71-71 before Mike James sank two free throws with 8:13 to play to commence a 7-0 run. James capped the mini-burst with a 3-pointer as the shot clock was winding down with 7:01 to play.
After Billups made two from the line to get Detroit within 81-79 with 2:55 left, Rasual Butler nailed a step-back 3-pointer over Ben Wallace as the shot clock expired to give the Heat a five-point cushion with 2:31 to go.
“They had some guys hit some big threes with no time left on the shot clock,” Billups said. “James hit a big one and Butler hit a big one. The game could have gone either way. I thought we executed well down the stretch, but they came up with the bigger shots.”