Heat take revenge on Pistons, prepare to face Pacers

AP

LeBron James and Miami breezed through one big rematch.

Now the Heat can prepare for another.

James had 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and Miami routed Detroit 110-95 on Sunday, avenging a home loss to the Pistons less than a week ago.

Up next for the Heat is a game at Indiana on Tuesday. The Pacers have the NBA’s best record — and this will be the first meeting between the teams since Miami’s seven-game victory in last season’s playoffs.

“They’re a great team right now, the way they’re playing,” James said. “We’re trying to get healthy, we’re trying to get to our full potential. We’ll see what we can do.”

First, the Heat had a score to settle against a Detroit team that won 107-97 at Miami on Tuesday. Ray Allen scored 18 points for the Heat, who were without Dwyane Wade on Sunday but still shot 56 percent from the field and 11 of 28 from 3-point range. Miami took an early 16-5 lead, and although the Pistons fought back, the Heat went on a 13-2 run in the third quarter to make it 74-57.

“They got us pretty good — they beat up on us in Miami,” James said. “To return the favor, we wanted to play much better against them this time.”

Miami looked motivated from the start. Allen’s 3-pointer made it 12-2, and although the Pistons steadied themselves momentarily, they could never tie it.

Miami led 59-53 at halftime, and Mario Chalmers and Allen each made 3-pointers during the crucial run at the beginning of the third quarter. The Heat led 91-70 after three.

“We knew that their focus was going to be higher, and you could see that at the beginning of the game and again in the third quarter. They were really able to push the ball off our missed shots and get some easy baskets,” Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. “We knew what was coming after we beat them up there, but knowing they are going to be coming hard is one thing. Stopping them is something else.”

Andre Drummond had 19 points and 14 rebounds for Detroit, which had its four-game winning streak snapped. The Pistons never showed any sign of slowing down Miami, and although they finished with 17 offensive rebounds, they never took full advantage of a potential edge inside.

Detroit had a 21-6 edge in second-chance points, but that could have been far worse for the Heat against Drummond and Greg Monroe.

“I thought we did a better job tonight versus last game of — when they did get the ball, really wall them up and force them under the basket,” Miami’s Shane Battier said. “Those guys are pogo sticks, and not much you can do when they’re playing above the rim like that. But once they catch it, try to wall them up and keep them pinned to the baseline.”

Raptors 106, Lakers 94

In Los Angeles, nearly eight months after Kobe Bryant limped off the Lakers’ home court with a torn Achilles tendon and a career in doubt, he struggled to keep his composure when he finally stepped back onto the same hardwood.

And though his comeback night didn’t quite go to script, Bryant couldn’t help reflecting on the work necessary to get back on that court — and all the months of steady labor ahead to reclaim his game.

Bryant had nine points and eight rebounds in his season debut, but Amir Johnson scored a career-high 32 points in the trade-depleted Raptors’ victory.

Bryant began his 18th NBA season by going 2-for-9 with four assists and eight turnovers in 28 minutes. The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history got hurt April 12 and persevered through several months of rehabilitation to return for Los Angeles’ 20th game of the new season, only to struggle with his shot, his timing and his new teammates.

“My rhythm is completely out of sync,” Bryant said. “But this is a start, and I guess a start is good.”

Celtics 114, Knicks 73

In New York, Jordan Crawford scored 23 points and Boston had the most-lopsided victory in the NBA this season.

Jared Sullinger added 21 points for the Celtics, who jumped to leads of 12-0, 18-1 and 25-3 and improved their Atlantic Division-leading record to 10-12.

Thunder 118, Pacers 94

In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant had 36 points and 10 rebounds as the Thunder turned a matchup of two of the NBA’s best teams into a blowout over Indiana.

The Thunder (15-4) improved to 10-0 at home.

Rockets 98, Magic 88

In Houston, Dwight Howard celebrated his 28th birthday in a big way, getting 20 points and 22 rebounds to lead the Rockets over Orlando.