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Published: Wednesday, 2/25/2009

Wade s big night leads Heat past Detroit

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Detroit s Jason Maxiell (54) battles Miami s Udonis Haslem for the ball. The Heat beat Detroit, dealing the Pistons lost their seventh straight defeat. Detroit s Jason Maxiell (54) battles Miami s Udonis Haslem for the ball. The Heat beat Detroit, dealing the Pistons lost their seventh straight defeat.
LYNNE SLADKY / AP Enlarge

MIAMI Not only did Dwyane Wade continue his run of career highs, he sent the Detroit Pistons to a new low.

Wade scored 31 points and set a personal best with 16 assists, leading the Miami Heat to a 103-91 win Tuesday night and handing the Pistons their seventh straight loss Detroit s longest slide in more than seven years.

Playing for the first time since Sunday s career-best 50-point outburst at Orlando, Wade missed his first four shots before getting on track. He made 11 of his last 16 shots, and after Detroit got within six early in the fourth, Wade scored 10 points in the final 9 minutes to put away the game.

MVP. That s all I can say, Heat point guard Mario Chalmers said. He s leading us. He s our leader. That s what we need from him and that s what he s doing.

Daequan Cook scored 16 points, Jermaine O Neal added 14 and Jamario Moon had 12 for the Heat, who took control with a 22-8 run to close the third quarter.

Allen Iverson scored 22 points and Tayshaun Prince added 18 for the Pistons (27-28), who fell under .500 this late in a season for the first time since 2000-01. Antonio McDyess shot 8-for-10 and scored 17 for Detroit.

When D-Wade took over, Prince said of his Beijing Olympics teammate, that s when things went south.

Michael Beasley scored 11 points and Udonis Haslem finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat.

Miami (30-26), which has now doubled last season s win total with 26 games still to play, moved within two games of idle Atlanta for fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Heat visit the Hawks on Friday.

Detroit fell into a tie for sixth in the East with Philadelphia, and needs to win in New Orleans on Wednesday to avoid matching the franchise s longest skid since 1995.

During this seven-game slide, Detroit has been outscored by an average of nine points, and its opponents have shot 46 percent from both the field overall and from 3-point range. Miami was 9-for-19 from beyond the arc Tuesday.

Iverson has seen enough.

First, he said the Pistons have no consistency and then he railed away on the defensive struggles something Detroit hasn t dealt with often in recent years.

Our whole thing is not on the offensive end, Iverson said. We can t stop anybody. The way we re playing we have to shoot 60 percent to win a basketball game. Everybody s always going to look at the offensive end and scoring points. We scored enough points to win the basketball game. But we just can t get stops consistently. We can t get stops when we need them.

True, when Detroit needed stops, Wade was too much.

McDyess three-point play with 10 minutes left got Detroit within 82-76, but the Pistons got no closer. Wade scored Miami s next three points, then found Cook for a 3-pointer that restored a 10-point lead.

Wade s jumper with 2:02 left gave Miami a 98-87 lead, sealing the outcome that the Heat desperately needed after seven losses in their previous 11 games.

This is the time of the season when you ve got to turn it up and we need wins, Wade said. Some nights my shot s not going to be going, but I ve proven I can do other things. Just trying to get my teammates involved tonight. Knowing coming off of scoring 50, this team was going to be looking at you early on, so I just got other guys involved until things opened up for me.

The key for Miami was defense in the third quarter, which finally got the Heat some breathing room.

Iverson s layup with 9:05 left in the third put Detroit on top 60-58. The Pistons proceeded to miss 12 of their 13 shots over the remainder of the period, with only six free throws in the final seven minutes of the quarter keeping Detroit within striking distance.

Finally in the third quarter, we really made a concerted effort to try to make it tougher for them, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. I thought we contested the majority of their shots, which helped. And offensively, there were some possessions where we really grinded it out.

Miami s bench outscored Detroit s reserves 39-20. And Miami outrebounded Detroit 44-34 an impressive stat, considering the Heat had been outrebounded by an average of 18 in their last three games.

We ve gotten a little bit of our focus back, Haslem said.

Notes: The last time Detroit lost seven straight was in December 2001. The next season started a current run of six straight appearances in the East finals. ... Pistons F Rasheed Wallace is within two points of 15,000 in his career. He had six Tuesday. ... Moon had a steal and dunk with 7:31 left in the second quarter, getting downcourt so fast the ballboy mopping sweat off the floor had to run for cover. ... Cook left in the third quarter after getting hit in the midsection by Iverson, but returned for the fourth. ... Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, in town to promote next month s World Baseball Classic, sat courtside.



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