November 27, 2004
Pistons Nip Heat 78-77 on Hamilton’s Shot
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The Detroit Pistons got back to their gritty, defensive ways to hand Miami its first loss against an Eastern Conference opponent. Richard Hamilton caught an inbounds pass under the basket and banked in a short shot with 1.3 seconds left to give Detroit a 78-77 win over the Heat on Friday night.
Miami fell to 8-1 against the East, even though it limited Detroit to 32.5 percent shooting.
"That's the kind of basketball we used to play," Pistons coach Larry Brown said.
Hamilton's game-winning shot was lofted past O'Neal and Eddie Jones on an across-the-lane pass from Tayshaun Prince.
"I knew I could get it over Eddie, but I was worried about Shaq, so I played it off the glass," Hamilton said. "That way if he blocked it, it was goaltending."
That's exactly the call the Heat wanted at the end of the game. Udonis Haslem, who made a go-ahead basket with 7.3 seconds to go, missed a long, fadeaway jumper at the buzzer.
The Heat left the court angry at the officials after Rasheed Wallace raised a hand near the basket and appeared to touch the final shot as it hit the front of the rim.
"There were a lot of questionable calls, like the traveling," said O'Neal, referring to a call against him with 2:13 left. "I never travel."
Hamilton led the Pistons with 24 points, making all 10 of his free throw attempts. Chauncey Billups added 15. The Pistons are .500 this season and 2-2 since their brawl with the Indiana Pacers a week ago.
With beefed-up security, a fan near midcourt was calmly escorted away from the floor after heckling the Heat early in the fourth quarter. He was removed from the arena, Pistons CEO Tom Wilson said.
"If you use profanity or get into family insults or sexual preferences, you're over the line and you will be ejected," Wilson said.
Heat senior director of team security David Holcombe refused comment after the game.
A few Miami players were asked if they heard what the fan said, and all said they didn't.
"I don't hear none of it and I'm programmed to handle it," O'Neal said. "Most people who heckle are cowards. If I'm on the street with no witnesses, ain't nobody going to heckle me."
Earlier, the crowd was so tame and the game so boring that one fan was shown on the scoreboard taking a nap.
Detroit's Ben Wallace missed his fourth game as part of a six-game suspension for his part in the infamous melee.
"It's not something we want to get used to," Hamilton said. "But we all know we have to pick it up at the defensive end when he is out."
O'Neal had 24 points and 17 rebounds for the Heat, and Wade had 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting and six assists before fouling out with 1:51 left. Haslem added 15 points one game after scoring a career-high 21.
"We know we have to get through them if we want to get where we want to go," Haslem said. "To be the best, you've got to beat the best."
Miami led 24-18 after the first, the 10th straight game the Pistons trailed following the opening quarter.
Detroit was ahead 42-40 at halftime following a 15-6 run. The Pistons started the fourth quarter with a 62-56 lead.
Notes:@ When Brown was asked if rookie Carlos Delfino, out with a bruised knee, would need a couple of practices before playing again, he said: "Carlos needs to understand the difference between being hurt and injured." ... Faces in the crowd included Tigers star Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez and game-show host Chuck Woolery, who chatted with former boxer Tommy Hearns at halftime. ... The Pistons start a five-game road trip Saturday at Milwaukee. ... Hamilton is 30-for-30 at the line in Detroit's last two home games.