MIAMI — One Detroit Pistons starter returned Wednesday night.
Their best player was a surprising pregame scratch.
And without center Andre Drummond (right rib contusion), likely the Pistons' sole candidate for next month’s NBA All-Star Game, the Miami Heat made 17 3-pointers in sending the Pistons to a 111-104 loss at American Airlines Center.
Pistons shooting guard Avery Bradley (groin) returned to the lineup after missing seven games and his 3-pointer with 1:17 remaining cut the deficit to 107-104.
But Heat big man Kelly Olynyk (25 points, 13 rebounds) grabbed an offensive rebound on the next possession and his layup 14 seconds later gave the Heat a 109-104 lead with 39 seconds left.
Boban Marjanovic received the start at center for the Pistons (20-16) and played well offensively with 15 points (5-for-8 shooting) and nine rebounds.
But the Heat took advantage of Drummond’s absence.
One of his greatest strengths is an ability to help teammates with his quick feet in covering ground around the 3-point line.
The Heat ran shooters off baseline screens, constantly freeing their wings for easy 3-point looks. The Heat finished 17-for-34 from behind the arc.
Tobias Harris led the Pistons with 19 points and Bradley struggled, going 6-for-19 in scoring 15 points.
Reggie Bullock scored 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the 3-point line. Luke Kennard scored 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting in 23 minutes off the bench.
Goran Dragic scored 24 points and added 13 assists for the Heat (20-17) and Josh Richardson scored 22.
Former Michigan standout Derrick Walton Jr. played five minutes for Miami, recording one rebound, one steal and one block. Walton went undrafted last summer.
Buycks helps out
For the second straight game, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy rolled with two-way player Dwight Buycks at the backup point guard over Langston Galloway, who will make $7 million this season.
And Buycks gave the Pistons 17 solid minutes.
He scored six points in the first half and his step-back jumper at the end of the third quarter tied the game at 81.
Buycks finished with 14 points on 7-for-12 shooting and four assists, and was far more effective than starting point guard Ish Smith.
After the Pistons yielded the Heat’s 11th 3-pointer, there were 5.4 seconds left in the first half.
Bradley dribbled quickly into the frontcourt and nailed a 35-footer to narrow the Pistons’ deficit to 56-52.
The Heat inbounded the ball to James Jones, who nearly banked in a half-court shot at the halftime buzzer.
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