Gordon carries Pistons past Heat, 106-99
And once again, the little guard found a way to torment the Miami Heat.
Gordon scored 26 of his season-high 39 points in the second half, including two huge 3-pointers in the final 3 1/2 minutes, and the Pistons beat Miami 106-99 on Friday night to snap a nine-game Heat winning streak that had been the NBA’s longest.
Gordon finished 12 of 21 from the field, 7 of 11 from 3-point range.
“It was just a joy just to watch him play,” Pistons coach John Kuester said.
The Heat would disagree.
The Bucks couldn’t have been happier.
Miami’s loss gave Milwaukee essentially what amounts to a two-game cushion in the race for the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Bucks (45-34) are a game ahead of Miami (44-35) in the standings, plus hold the tiebreaker, so Milwaukee has to lose two of its final three games for the Heat to have any chance at finishing fifth.
Tayshaun Prince(notes) added 28 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Pistons, who won their third straight despite playing without guards Rodney Stuckey(notes) (ribs) and Richard Hamilton(notes) (ankle). Charlie Villanueva(notes) scored 11 and Will Bynum(notes) had 10 for Detroit.
For Miami, Dwyane Wade(notes) finished with 19 points—none in the final 13 minutes, and with both of his second-half field goals being layups. Wade added nine assists, while Udonis Haslem(notes) finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra warned his team before the game that waiting to pull games out late against teams whose seasons will end next week is dangerous.
“You play games in this league to win,” Wade said. “Some are going to be tight. Some aren’t going to be. We won nine games in a row. We lost one. We’ll bounce back.”
Including playoffs, Gordon now has 10 games of 25 points or more against Miami, more than any other team.
Down the stretch, the Heat simply didn’t have an answer for him.
Each of his final two 3-pointers gave Detroit seven-point leads, the last a 100-93 cushion with 2:11 left. Dorell Wright(notes) answered both with 3s of his own for Miami—which lost for just the fourth time in its last 19 games—but Gordon sealed it with a pullup 14-footer with 44 seconds left.
In Gordon’s last two trips to Miami, he’s averaging 41 points, including a ridiculous 15-for-22 effort from 3-point range.
“Obviously, he likes our rims—a lot,” Wade said. “He’s a rhythm shooter. He’s one of those guys that if he hits one or two early, you could be in trouble. … That’s what you get when you get teams that have nothing to lose. They’re just going to shoot it, bad shots or not. You get a player like him, who can make any shot that he takes, especially in rhythm, he’s going to be tough to guard.”
Gordon didn’t deny that he likes coming to Miami.
“You always have to get up for a game any time you’re playing against D-Wade, one of the top five players in the world,” said Gordon, whose previous best this season was a 30-point effort. “It’s easy to get up for a game here. I knew I had it going.”
Gordon’s biggest part in the win may have had nothing to do with offense whatsoever.
He led the defensive effort on Wade, who could only get eight shots off against the Pistons. It was only the third time, and the first since January 2004, that Wade played 37 or more minutes and was held to such a small number of shots.
“It’s always a tough task trying to stop somebody like D-Wade, his ability to be so crafty and getting around with his speed and strength,” Prince said. “Ben just did a good job of getting up the court.”
Miami has pulled off a number of late rallies in recent weeks, and when Haslem connected with 7:56 left to cap a 19-6 run to put the Heat up 86-85, it seemed like this would be another.
Detroit wasn’t having it, holding Miami to just two more field goals in the next five minutes, then hanging on at the end.
“We shoot 56 percent, we have 23 assists,” Spoelstra said. “Do we have to score 120 points to beat somebody now? … It’s not about the offense.”
Detroit led most of the way, building a 53-48 edge by halftime, and if it wasn’t for some quick thinking by Haslem, the Heat could have been in a bit of a deeper hole at the break.
Haslem’s foul on Ben Wallace(notes) with 16 seconds left took away what would have been an easy layup. Wallace—a 41 percent free throw shooter this season coming into Friday, yet having gone a sizzling-for-him 6 for 6 in his previous two games—airballed the first try, then missed the second almost as badly.
Not surprisingly, Wallace was an afterthought in the Detroit offensive plan the rest of the way. It was all Gordon from there.
NOTES: Appearing on the Heat TV broadcast during the third quarter, Heat president Pat Riley said he thinks there have been times where Michael Beasley has “been judged too harshly.” Riley also said he’s asked Beasley to lighten the expectations he places upon himself. … Haslem has 10 or more rebounds in each of his last five games, tying a career high.