MIAMI — James Jones insists he got a hand on the basketball. The Detroit Pistons said he got a hand on Austin Daye instead.
Either way, the Miami Heat exalted in the outcome.
Eddie House hit two deciding free throws with 6.5 seconds left, LeBron James led all scorers with 39 points, and Daye missed a contested dunk off a lob on the final play as the Heat rallied late to beat the Pistons 88-87 Friday night.
“Everybody depends on everybody,” House said. “We believe in each other. If you don't have a play, you try to make a play for somebody else, make it easier for your teammate.”
James finished with nine assists and eight rebounds for the Heat, who played without Chris Bosh (ankle) and Dwyane Wade (wrist) and trailed by 10 late in the third quarter. House scored 15 points and Mike Miller added 12 for Miami, which had lost five of its last six games but remained tied with Chicago (32-14) for second in the Eastern Conference.
Wade was a very late scratch, his status not announced until about 15 minutes before tip-off. He will have an MRI exam on his wrist Saturday.
Ben Gordon scored 21 points for Detroit, which trailed for less than 9 minutes in the game. Daye's dunk attempt was set up by Tayshaun Prince's lob on an inbounds play, but replays indicated the slam try simply skipped off the rim.
“He threw me off to get separation and so I was just recovering,” Jones said. “I got a piece of the ball. They said I didn't get a piece of the ball.”
Daye had 19 points and nine rebounds, Tracy McGrady finished with 14 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds, and Chris Wilcox had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons.
“We're better than our record,” said Pistons coach John Kuester, whose team fell to 17-30, 5-20 on the road. “What we have to do is continue to play the rest of the season this way and hopefully good things will happen.”
The Pistons were without starting guard Rodney Stuckey, who sat out with a bruised right shoulder. He got hurt in a collision with Denver's Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday night. Richard Hamilton was out with the flu, and Ben Wallace was not with the team to tend to a family matter.
Wade sat out with a sprained right wrist, the second time a malady kept him sidelined in the past week. Bosh was out with a sprained left ankle.
And in the second quarter, there was fear James would join them on the bench.
All on the same play, James twisted his left ankle, lost the ball, and took a knee in the forehead from teammate Joel Anthony. James remained down for a few seconds, kicking his feet on the court and wriggling in pain. The Heat called a 20-second timeout, and James remained in the game.
House's game-winning points came after he tried a pullup against Gordon, who hit him on the shot attempt. House made both free throws for a one-point lead, and Detroit called time to set up a final play.
Miami had a foul to give, and James used it with 2.7 seconds left, forcing Detroit to draw up another last-ditch try. They went to Daye, and Jones saved the Heat.