Originally Published: December 3, 2013

1. Why This Latest Heat Streak Won't Go To 11

By Israel Gutierrez | ESPN.com

MIAMI -- The last time the Miami Heat had a double-figure win streak, the Heat got just as swept up in it as basketball fans did.

That perfect 27-game run meant playing through pain, it meant intense comebacks, it meant win at all costs.

This time the streak started in November, not February. This time Dwyane Wade's sore knee was far more critical than any single game. This time, it ended at 10, with the Detroit Pistons taking down Miami with a 107-97 win, as seven Pistons scored in double figures.

Dwyane Wade
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsWhile Dwyane Wade rested in natty fashion, the Pistons took control early for a 107-97 win.

The Heat attempted to go with their usual formula sans Wade: Fill in with James Jones as a starter, look for someone to complement LeBron James offensively and grit their way to a victory.

But on this night, Jones was a non-factor in 11 scoreless minutes (contrary to his 17-point night in Orlando on Nov. 20). This night, the Heat got a timely 23 points from Michael Beasley. But it couldn't offset a game in which Miami shot a season-low 43.9 percent, allowed 29 points off 19 turnovers, gave up a season-high 60 points in the paint and were outrebounded 46-34.

"It was some uncharacteristic mistakes out there," said Heat guard Norris Cole, who kick-started a near comeback that saw the Heat close to within three points of Detroit midway through the fourth quarter. "That's on us. You can't even explain some of them. We own up to our mistakes.

"But you understand against good teams, you can't put yourself in a deficit and come back every time."

You sort of expect it, though. When Chris Andersen sent home a putback dunk with the Heat down 17, followed by a pair of Cole layins, you could practically picture the comeback getting completed. Heck, it just happened one game earlier against the Bobcats, with Chris Bosh nailing three 3-pointers to give the comeback tale an interesting twist.

This one, though, essentially ended when three consecutive Heat shots didn't fall: First an open 3-pointer from LeBron, then a pull-up from Beasley and finally a missed corner 3-pointer from Bosh.

Brandon Jennings followed with a deep, contested 3-pointer that extended the Pistons' lead to six points and deflated Miami.

"It's a miss-or-make league sometimes," James said.

If you want to be overly critical of a game in early December, you could argue LeBron should've played more than 37 minutes with Wade out (he asked out of the game with about four minutes remaining in the first quarter, worn out from the pace of the game). You could even argue that with Andre Drummond playing 11 minutes in the fourth quarter, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra could've turned to fouling the 32 percent free-throw shooter.

But in December, even with a double-digit streak on the line, the Heat understands its priorities.

"It's too early to worry about winning streaks or anything like that," Cole said. "Because if you win a lot of games and you aren't getting better, and you peak too soon, it's not going to help us."

What could've helped against the Pistons duo of Drummond (18 rebounds in 22 minutes) and Greg Monroe (16 points on 8 of 10 shooting) was more size on the interior. Yet Spoelstra still turned to Shane Battier as his starter and never asked Udonis Haslem to enter the game.

Of course, Greg Oden would've been ideal against a team with this kind of size, but the Heat remain cautious and on a specific schedule with their biggest reclamation project.

Instead, it was hope for more of the comeback magic and assess themselves afterward.

About the only positive assessment for Miami was Beasley, who continues to prove he can be relied upon, even when his offense is not just a luxury but a necessity.

"That is what I continue to tell him, stop trying to fit in as much as be himself," James said.

As they've done in seasons past, the Heat will try to find themselves on an extended road trip -- this one beginning Thursday in Chicago, where the Heat's last double-figure win streak ended, and goes through Minnesota, Detroit and Indiana.

Those four games will be more telling than any home comeback win against the Pistons would've anyway.

"It was a good run," Chris Bosh said. "And maybe this is what this team needs right now going on this road trip."

Dimes past: November 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | December 1 | 2

Israel Gutierrez is an NBA writer for ESPN.com.

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