Heat bake Pistons, 91-86

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) – Pat Riley had one thing in mind when he revamped the supporting cast around Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade.

Get past Detroit.

The Miami Heat’s new role players were so effective in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals that they didn’t even need their superstar duo to steal home-court advantage away from the Pistons.

First-year Heat players Antoine Walker, Gary Payton and Jason Williams all scored in double figures to lead Miami past Detroit 91-86 Tuesday night.

Wade, who sat out more than 10 straight minutes of the second half with four fouls, had 25 points in 27 minutes and O’Neal scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half – making the Heat feel even better about starting the series strong.

The Pistons, who trailed by as much as 12 in the first quarter and nine in the second, took their first lead on Chauncey Billups’ layup with 6:55 to go in the third quarter.

The two-time defending conference champions didn’t enjoy the lead long.

Miami snatched control of the game with a 20-5 run, taking a 75-65 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

Detroit’s backcourt scored a lot, but missed a ton of shots.

Richard Hamilton had 22 points on 9-of-22 shooting and Billups finished with 19 on 6-of-19 shooting.

Tayshaun Prince scored 16 points, reserve Antonio McDyess added 10 and Rasheed Wallace had a quiet night – scoring just seven points after missing seven of 10 shots.

Game 2 is Thursday night at The Palace before the best-of-seven series shifts to Miami.

Only foul trouble slowed down Wade and O’Neal before halftime, and Wade in the third quarter.

Wade was called for his third foul with 7:47 left in the first half, with 13 points on 6-of-6, and O’Neal went to the bench a few minutes later with three fouls and 12 points after missing only one of six shots.

With Miami’s leaders on the bench, the Pistons seemed to have a perfect opportunity to take their first lead.

But the Heat’s role players, led by Payton, turned a three-point advantage into a 48-39 lead late in the first half.

The same scenario played out shortly after Wade was called for his fourth foul with 7:14 left in the third quarter.

After Wade went back to the bench, Detroit went ahead 60-55 – its largest lead – before missing 12 straight shots, falling behind by eight and failing to mount much of a comeback.

The Pistons played just two days after being pushed to seven games by the Cleveland Cavaliers while the Heat played one week after eliminating New Jersey in five games.

AP-ES-05-23-06 2253EDT

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