Jarvis Hayes, Jason Maxiell, Juan Dixon and Arron Afflalo each scored 10 points for the Pistons (55-21), who won their fifth straight. The top three spots in the East—Boston, Detroit and Orlando, in that order—are now set, although it’s been a foregone conclusion they would wind up that way for weeks.
“We’re comfortable with our position right now and we just want to keep doing what’s made us successful,” Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups said. “You can’t do any more than that.”
Earl Barron scored 20 points for Miami, which lost its seventh straight.
“We just couldn’t make anything,” said Heat coach Pat Riley, whose team shot 35 percent.
The Heat (13-64) closed in on sealing the NBA’s worst record. Of the 1,000 possible NBA draft lottery combinations, the team with the worst record gets 250 chances of winning the No. 1 pick.
“Obviously, it’s not the best situation, not the situation we thought we’d be in at the beginning of the year,” Quinn said. “The only thing with five or six games remaining to do is go out there and play with pride, play as hard as we can and show what we can do out there.”
Detroit didn’t need them, nor much from its starters, either.
None of the Pistons’ opening five Sunday played more than 28 minutes, and they got long stretches of rest during the game, too. The fivesome combined to play a total of 3 minutes, 28 seconds in the second quarter, which actually was a period where Detroit outscored Miami 20-11 to take a 39-27 lead into the intermission.
“We decided when we came down that we were going to go with the younger guys,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “They did a nice job, found a way to finish and it was very encouraging.”
Prince went 5-for-5 in the third quarter, a period that ended with Billups missing a layup badly—but being credited for an alley-oop assist to Maxiell, who laid the errant shot in for a 68-54 lead entering the fourth.
Davis made a 30-foot 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 8 1/2 minutes left, drawing Miami within 70-61, but the Pistons put it away with a quick 10-0 run, with Stuckey—who nearly tripled his season scoring average Sunday— getting six of those points.
“The bench has definitely been playing a big role,” McDyess said.
One Miami highlight: The Heat honored center Alonzo Mourning with a halftime ceremony.
Mourning, who entered the year insisting it would be his final season, saw the year cut short by a devastating knee injury in December, which figured to end his career. But in recent weeks, he’s been speaking like someone who hasn’t totally ruled out yet another comeback attempt.
“Time will dictate my basketball future,” Mourning told the crowd.
Another rare Heat highlight from this dismal season could come Monday, when Riley—a seven-time NBA champion and the third-winningest coach in league history—is expected to be announced as part of the 2008 class entering the Basketball Hall of Fame.
This year’s group of enshrinees will be announced in San Antonio, a few hours before the Kansas-Memphis NCAA title game.
“I’ve never been big on individual awards,” Riley said. “But this is different.”
Detroit was 4-0 against Miami this season. … Hamilton could be back in Detroit’s lineup in time for Wednesday’s trip to Philadelphia. … Barron took nine of Miami’s first 13 shots. He started 5-for-7 in the first 5:25, then missed his next eight and didn’t record another field goal until 4:15 remained in the game. … The Heat fell to 2-31 when scoring under 90 points.