Jimmy Butler scored 18 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and the Miami Heat avoided an embarrassing loss by rallying to beat the hapless Detroit Pistons 118-105 on Tuesday night.
Miami (42-37) kept its chance of escaping the Play-In tournament alive, but Detroit (16-63) made it tough before losing its 10th straight and falling to 1-21 in its last 22 games.
Gabe Vincent scored 22 points for the Heat while Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro had 18 apiece.
Jaden Ivey scored 30 points for the Pistons, while fellow rookie Jalen Duren had 20 points and 14 rebounds.
The Heat led 80-79 at the start of the fourth quarter, but weren’t able to pull away from the NBA’s worst team. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Cory Joseph put Detroit ahead 97-94 with 6:42 left, but Butler’s floater gave Miami a 100-99 edge with 4:35 remaining.
Eric Spoelstra started sending his defense hard at Ivey, and Detroit struggled to adapt. Butler made it 107-99 from the free throw line with 2:47 left, and after Ivey hit a tough banker, Butler’s three-point play gave Miami a nine-point lead.
Miami led by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, but the Pistons narrowed the gap to 59-52 at the half. Vincent had 17 points for the Heat while Ivey scored 15.
Duren’s dunk put the Pistons up 60-59 at 3:10 of the third, but Miami scored the next 13 points. Detroit nearly regained the lead at the end of the period, but Eugene Omoruyi’s layup came just after the buzzer.
Heat: Miami has won seven of its last nine against Detroit, including both games in Michigan this season. ... Herro made both free throw attempts, extending his streak to 32, one short of his career best set in 2020.
Pistons: Ivey extended his franchise rookie record by scoring 10-plus points in his 36th straight game. Dave Bing had streaks of 33 and 32 in the 1966-67 season.
Heat: Visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.
Pistons: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.