DETROIT – These Detroit Pistons aren’t the Bad Boys, but they have plenty of resolve, a bit of grit and a certain kind of toughness. It showed in a couple of hostile environments earlier this season and it was apparent in the way they defended their turf the past 10 days.
Less than six weeks after moving into the new Little Caesars Arena, they have established homecourt advantage.
The Pistons defeated the Miami Heat 112-103 Sunday to sweep a five-game homestand for the first time since 2007-08. They are 7-1 at home and their 10-3 mark is second-best in the Eastern Conference, their finest 13-game start since 2005-06.
“When we got back from the West Coast, we all said let’s rally off five wins and go 5-0 and get back on the road and prove ourselves,” Tobias Harris said. “So just the fight that we had, the confidence to come in every night ready to play and expect to win every game.”
Harris led the way with 25 points, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range, where he shot 21-of-35 during the homestand (60 percent). Avery Bradley (24 points) has scored 20 or more in six of the past nine games. Andre Drummond (17 rebounds) is just the second NBA player in the past 40 years to grab at least a dozen rebounds in the first 13 games (Moses Malone did it in the first 16 games in 1978-79).
Luke Kennard, the 12th pick in this year’s draft, scored a career-high 14 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes. He scored nine points on 4-of-4 shooting in the fourth quarter to gain separation for his team.
“Other than the Warriors win (Oct. 29), this is our best win,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “That was a hell of a basketball game, a lot of back and forth. You got to give them a lot of credit coming off five games out west and coming here from Utah on Friday, that is really tough scheduling, so maybe they ran out of gas a little bit, too, but all I know is our guys got down double figures in the second half and just kept playing, kept fighting, kept staying with the game. It was a game of a lot of runs and I was really proud of our guys especially the way they shot the ball early in the game.”
The Pistons play nine of their next 11 on the road, including a three-game trip this week to Milwaukee (Wednesday), Indiana (Friday) and Minnesota (Sunday), teams they have beaten at LCA.
It was the fifth time the Pistons have come back to win after trailing double digits (they were down 11 in the third quarter).
“It speaks to the heart of the team,” Harris said. “We’re not going to quit, we’re going to keep fighting every night. Every team that plays us is going to get our best. We’ve been letting our defense fuel those type of comebacks.”
Drummond descried the energy in the locker room as fantastic. That was evident when players began shouting “Cool Hand Lake” when Kennard was speaking with the media.
“We deal with adversity well, we deal with success well, too,” Drummond said. “We don’t get too big-headed when we win, and we don’t get too down on ourselves when we lose. Just got to keep it even and keep it rolling.”
This was the last stop on a six-game trip for the Heat. They had plenty of energy early on, making 12 of their first 24 shots from beyond the arc, before cooling off in the second half and converting only one of their final 13 tries.
“Our guys on this homestand did a hell of a job,” Van Gundy said. “Really proud of them tonight.”
Miami dropped to 6-7.
“Today was a tough team, they played well, they came out of the gates shooting really well,” Anthony Tolliver said of the Heat. “Sometimes when that happens, some teams say, ‘Oh, man, chalk it up to there’s going to be nights like that where other team is making shots and you’re going to lose.’ But that’s not the attitude of this team. Everybody continued to chip at it and fight and finally got it going in the second half.”