Pistons survive Heat, 92-88

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) – The start, story line and result were different.

Tayshaun Prince scored 24 points, Richard Hamilton had 22 and the Detroit Pistons bounced back – as usual – and held on to beat the Miami Heat 92-88 Thursday night in Game 2 in the Eastern Conference finals.

Detroit got off to a great start after an awful one in the opener. Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade’s supporting cast was lackluster following its outstanding performance.

The Heat made it close with a frantic rally, but the conference finals rematch is now a best-of-five series, with Miami headed home to host Game 3 on Saturday night.

Wade had 32 points and seven assists, while O’Neal was dominant with 21 points and 12 rebounds. But they didn’t get much help.

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 Chauncey 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.

Wade’s 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds left made it 90-88, then Billups made two free throws on the ensuing possession and Lindsey Hunter made a steal to seal the victory. The Heat had won four straight road games and five in a row overall.

Billups had 18 points and eight assists, Rasheed Wallace scored 16 and Ben Wallace added nine points and 12 rebounds.

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 Tuesday night – 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.

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’s 3-pointer 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.

After the Heat cut their deficit to four late in the first half, Detroit scored the last seven points to lead 48-37 at halftime.

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.

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.

Notes: 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. … Riley is one of three coaches to lead three franchises to the conference finals, and former Pistons coach Larry Brown is the only coach to pull off the feat with four teams. … In his previous four games, Walker averaged 19 points on 53 percent shooting.

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