There was a stretch in the second half when LeBron kept the Heat in the game practically by himself. He turned in one of the most dominant two-way performances of his career, surpassing the 35 points with at least six steals for the first time in 11 seasons. But Dwyane Wade's absence and the lack of consistent support from anyone other than Chris Bosh was simply too much for one superstar to overcome -- even one as unstoppable as James.
No way around this one. Wade failed his team by having to serve a one-game league suspension for kicking Ramon Sessions in the groin area during the Heat's win in Charlotte on Wednesday. While he stayed at the team's hotel in Detroit during the game, Wade certainly followed the national debate as to whether he's a dirty player. However, the silver lining is the time off benefits Wade, whose surgically repaired left knee could use the break in the midst of four games in five nights.
This was a decent numbers game for Bosh, but it just didn't seem like the major impact was there inside. Because of the Heat's lack of size, so much of the burden and pressure fall on Bosh to be a beast down low. But when he is consistently settling for jumpers and doesn't attack the rim nearly as much as he should, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Still, there's not much Bosh can do when the Heat's perimeter defense is as shabby as it was against the hot-shooting, penetrating-at-will Pistons.
You have to wonder whether Allen was truly ready to return from that shoulder injury or whether he was pressed into action a bit early because of Wade's suspension. Based on his shooting, he certainly wasn't up to his normal standards. Allen missed 10 of his 13 shots, including five of seven from 3-point range. His struggles came during the second half, when James desperately needed someone else to step up to take advantage of his drive-and-kick passes. It wasn't Ray's night. But he wasn't alone.
Led by Will Bynum, the Pistons essentially spotted the Heat an early 17-point lead and then used a 32-point swing to push out to a commanding double-digit lead in the second half. Bynum and Charlie Villanueva combined for 43 points on 17-of-26 shooting from the field, including 7-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. The Pistons shot a season-high 58 percent from the field and 63 percent from 3-point range. It was the best shooting display against the Heat all season.