AUBURN HILLS, MICHIGAN (TICKER) —The Miami Heat have a enough trouble scoring without battling the league’s best defensive team four times a season.
Detroit entered Monday allowing just 85.8 points per game, more than three points lower better Miami for the stingiest defense in the NBA. Despite having the league’s second-best defense, the Heat are the second-worst team offensively, managing less than 86 points per game.
The Pistons won three of the four meetings this season with the Heat, who were held below 89 points in each matchup and averaged just 67.3 points in their losses.
Miami managed just 68 points on November 20 - its third-lowest total of the season - and posted its lowest score Monday.
“There are no gimmicks, no tricks and they just play good, tough, hard basketball,” Heat forward Brian Grant said. “They had a sense of pride out there that we didn’t have. We didn’t show any pride. We didn’t show anything.”
The Heat shot just 33 percent (25-of-75) from the floor and were 0-of-5 from 3-point range as they again played without leading scorer Eddie Jones, who sat out with a left groin strain.
“We were absolutely not competitive from the first minute tonight,” Miami coach Pat Riley said. “It was a really embarrassing performance. We couldn’t make shots.”
Clifford Robinson scored eight of his 15 points in the opening quarter as the red-hot Pistons jumped out to a 26-14 lead and never looked back. Detroit never trailed after scoring the game’s first eight points and led by as many as 14 in the opening period.
“We had a lot of open shots to start the game, we just got off to a bad start,” Riley said. “The starters tonight just simply were not ready and did not bring a lot of energy.”
Hamilton scored 10 points in the first six minutes of the third quarter as the Pistons stretched their lead to 61-40. Detroit had a 65-45 cushion before reeling off 11 straight points, including five by Michael Curry.
Robinson added four points during the spurt and capped it with a runner for a 76-45 lead with 47 seconds left. The Pistons had their largest lead at 89-53 on a 3-pointer by Jon Barry with 7:17 remaining.
“I think we’ve really gotten into a groove where we’re really understanding how to close teams out once we have them down,” Robinson said. “Early in the season, we were in situations where we’d have teams down and they were able to get back in the game. But lately we’ve done a really good job of coming out with a workmanlike attitude and finish teams.”
Curry finished with 11 points and All-Star Ben Wallace collected 19 rebounds, helping the Pistons to an overwhelming 51-36 advantage on the glass.
“We had a lot of guys play really well,” Detroit coach Rick Carlisle said. “Ben Wallace was enormous again on the glass with 19 rebounds. Rip Hamilton played a great offensive game. We sort of rode those two guys to the win, but we had a lot of guys play well, and I thought that we played hard and together.”
Detroit shot just 44 percent (32-of-72) from the floor but made 7-of-22 3-pointers and outscored Miami at the free-throw line, 22-12.