Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/29

Game 1: Thursday, December 29th
Game 2: Sunday, February 12th
Game 3: Wednesday, March 22nd
Game 4: Thursday, April 6th

Heat 73

(45-23, 19-16 away)

Pistons 82

(54-13, 30-2 home)

Coverage: WDWB

8:00 PM ET, March 22, 2006

The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

1 2 3 4 T
MIA 21 22 16 1473
DET 19 16 25 2282

Top Performers

Mia: S. O'Neal 27 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk

Det: C. Billups 24 Pts, 5 Reb, 10 Ast

Pistons beat Heat behind Billups, defense

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons refused to let Dwyane Wade beat them again.

In their first meeting since Wade scored Miami's final 17 points in a two-point win on Feb. 12, the Pistons held him to a season-low 13 and rallied for an 82-73 victory Wednesday night.

"You never want to have a player that has so much confidence against you that he thinks he can just take the game over at any time," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "At least he's not going to think he can walk on the floor and score 17 straight on us."

Wade was just 3-of-15 from the floor.

"I missed some shots that I normally make, and they really pressured me," he said. "It was tough, but when we play them again in April, we'll have some counters for what they were doing tonight."

Shaquille O'Neal (thumb) returned to the Miami lineup after sitting out Tuesday's loss in Minnesota, but the Heat lost his backup, Alonzo Mourning, in the second quarter. As a result, O'Neal played a season-high 43 minutes, scoring 27 points.

"We played pretty well, but we had a letdown in the last five or six minutes," O'Neal said. "It wasn't really anything they did -- we just made a lot of mistakes and they capitalized."

Mourning left the arena with a boot on his right leg after sustaining what the Heat believe is a torn calf muscle.

"I don't know the exact prognosis, but it's not very good," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "There's a reason we didn't trade Michael Doleac, and that's because of this exact possibility. He's going to have to step up."

O'Neal has averaged only 30 minutes a game this season, thanks to Mourning, but knows that number is about to go up.

"It's going to be very tough without him," he said. "But Dolie will step up and 'Zo can get some rest and come back strong."

Detroit has won 16 straight at home, five short of the team record. The Pistons also clinched the outright Central Division title, and reduced their magic number for the East title to six over Miami.

"This wasn't any kind of statement -- you make statements in the playoffs," Rasheed Wallace said. "This was just playing a game against a very good team."

Miami led 64-62 with 8 minutes to play, but Antonio McDyess and Tayshaun Prince combined for 10 points in less than 3 minutes to put Detroit ahead 72-66 with 4:49 to go.

Chauncey Billups led the Pistons with 24 points, while Richard Hamilton and Prince each scored 17 and Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace combined for 20 rebounds.

"Both teams wanted to win this game in the worst way," Billups said. "It was kind of an ugly game, but the intensity was there. This was a playoff game. It really was."

Antoine Walker added 15 points for the Heat.

The Heat held Detroit to a season-low 35 points in the first half, and took an eight-point lead into intermission. The Pistons shot just 31 percent in the half, including a 1-for-11 performance from the bench.

"We just couldn't make a shot," Rasheed Wallace said. "We had to buckle down and play some defense."

Detroit trailed by as many as 12 early in the second half, but 3-pointers by Hamilton and Billups keyed an 17-5 run that tied the game at 54.

Wade put Miami back in front with a jumper, but another 3-pointer by Hamilton gave Detroit its first lead since the first quarter. The Pistons led 60-59 at the end of the third.

Game notes

The Pistons became the only NBA team since 1980 to start the same lineup -- Prince, Billups, Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace -- in the first 67 games of a season. The 2002-03 Golden State Warriors started the same lineup in their first 66 games. ... The Pistons have not lost a regular-season home game in regulation since March 28, 2005, against Dallas. ... Miami's 73 points were a season low.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 73 82
FGM-FGA 28-74 (.378) 29-83 (.349)
3PM-3PA 7-17 (.412) 6-22 (.273)
FTM-FTA 10-14 (.714) 18-23 (.783)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-47 12-45
Assists 21 19
Turnovers 16 5
Steals 4 8
Blocks 3 8
Fast Break Points 5 17
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 13 (0/0)
Largest Lead 12 10

Top Performers

Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
Points: 27
Reb: 10
Ast: 1
Stl: 0
Blk: 1
Chauncey Billups Billups
Points: 24
Reb: 5
Ast: 10
Stl: 0
Blk: 0