AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons got off to a
great start, had a double-digit lead with less than a minute left
and barely hung on.
Ultimately, however, all that matters is that the Eastern
Conference finals are even.
Tayshaun Prince tied a career playoff high with 24 points and
had 11 rebounds, Richard Hamilton scored 22 points, and Detroit
bounced back -- as usual -- and beat Miami 92-88 Thursday night in
"They came in here and won a game, now it's our turn to go down
there and do the same thing," Detroit point guard Chauncey Billups
Game 3 is Saturday night in Miami.
The Heat almost took a stunning and commanding 2-0 lead with a
frantic rally -- scoring 17 points in the final 1:46 after trailing
"I'm going to go to that offense in the beginning of the
night," Miami coach Pat Riley joked.
Wade had 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while
O'Neal was dominant with 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
"I've got a busted lip and a black eye," Detroit center Ben
Wallace said after defending O'Neal for much of the night. "But
you do what you have to do."
O'Neal wants to inflict more damage.
"I think we need to focus on getting it inside," O'Neal said.
"We took way too many jump shots."
Detroit, which led by as much as 14 points in the first half,
went ahead 57-39 early in the second half on Hamilton's layup after
Billups scored his first points on a 3-pointer and a layup.
A 10-2 run pulled Miami within six points midway through the
fourth quarter. Rasheed Wallace's 3-pointer gave the Pistons an
81-71 lead with 2:41 left.
While thousands of fans headed home, Miami wasn't ready to
concede even though it trailed 85-75 with just under a minute to
Wade's 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds left made it 90-88 after
Prince was called for a 5-second violation on an inbounds pass,
though the lanky forward said he called timeout.
"We were desperate -- we should've played that way from the
start," Wade said.
The Pistons sealed the victory when Billups connected on two
free throws and Lindsey Hunter made a steal.
"When you start playing not to lose, you don't play
aggressive," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "You wait for the
clock to keep rolling."
The Heat had won four straight road games and five in a row
Billups had 18 points and eight assists, Rasheed Wallace scored
16 and Ben Wallace added nine points and 12 rebounds.
"When we play that way as a team, we're tough to beat," Ben
Miami beat Detroit 91-86 in Game 1 and snatched home-court
advantage away from the top-seeded team in the NBA playoffs. The
Heat's new-look surrounding cast came through in that win -- while
its superstars were in foul trouble -- with Antoine Walker, Gary
Payton and Jason Williams combining for 41 points.
In Game 2, that trio contributed just 25 points.
"You have to have four or five guys play well," Riley said.
Miami led 11-0 in the series opener in its first game in a week,
while Detroit missed its first six shots playing two days after
being pushed to seven games by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Game 2 provided a stark contrast, with the Pistons appearing to
have much more energy -- until the final minutes.
Detroit got off to such a good start that offensively challenged
Ben Wallace was outscoring the Heat 7-6 midway through the first
quarter. Prince made a 3-pointer that capped a 13-0 run to put
Detroit up 18-6.
The Pistons led 25-12 after making 56 percent of their shots and
holding Miami to 25 percent. It was the Heat's lowest scoring
quarter of the playoffs, and the fewest points a team has scored
against the Pistons in the first quarter this postseason.
Detroit had success in the first quarter keeping Wade out of the
lane, forcing him to settle for three missed jumpers, and he had
two points on free throws. He had 13 of his 25 points in the first
quarter of Game 1 after making all six of his shots.
Wade got closer to the basket in the second quarter and also
connected from the outside, scoring 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Detroit scored the last seven points of the first half to take a
Wade and O'Neal combined for 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting in
the first half, while the rest of the Heat had just 11 points after
missing 14 of 18 shots.
"Guys had shots, but they didn't go down," Wade said.
Even though Billups didn't score in the first half, he had five
assists and directed a free-flowing offense that helped Hamilton
score 20, Prince 12 and Ben Wallace nine on 4-of-4 shooting.
O'Neal appeared to hurt his neck with 5:03 left in the game
when his head collided with Walker's knee after trying to block a
shot and tumbling over teammate James Posey. ... O'Neal has not
lost a series after his team won Game 1, which has happened 25
times previously. ... Wade added to his Heat record by scoring at
least 20 points this postseason for the 13th time. ... Detroit and
Miami are meeting for the third time in the postseason, and the
second straight year. The Heat lost on their home court last year
in Game 7 of the conference finals, and swept the Pistons in the
2000 first round. ... In his previous four games, Walker averaged
19 points on 53 percent shooting. ... Wade had nine turnovers,
tying a franchise-playoff record. ... Ben Wallace has made all
seven of his field goals in the series, and one of four free
throws. ... Hamilton had four steals, matching his career playoff