Bam Adebayo’s Buzzer-Beater Propels Heat Over Pistons, 104-101

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo entered Sunday afternoon’s game against the Detroit Pistons having made just three three-pointers all season. But he left Little Caesars Arena having made four. And it was the game-winning basket as time expired, giving the Jimmy Butler-less Miami Heat a 104-101 win over the Detroit Pistons, on a night where the team celebrated the 2004 championship squad.

The Pistons had a chance to go ahead with the score tied at 101-101, as newcomer Evan Fournier stole the ball from Duncan Robinson with 23.1 seconds remaining. Charging down the court, Fournier found Isaiah Stewart, who got the ball to Cade Cunningham with about 16 seconds remaining.

Cunningham was isolated on the wing, but took a step-back 27-foot three-point shot with nine seconds left. Terry Rozier grabbed the rebound, pressed up court, and dropped the ball off at the top of the key to a trailing Adebayo. Adebayo stepped right into the shot from Steph Curry range, sinking it as time expired.

After the game, Pistons Head Coach Monty Williams said he wasn’t going to make a big deal out of the team’s final offensive possession, ultimately saying Cunningham wasn’t at fault for his decision to take a shot with no shot clock and so much time still remaining in the game.

“That stuff happens. I’m not gonna put that out there,” Williams said. “We had a chance down the stretch to win a game. You know, maybe there was too much time on the clock, but if he would’ve made the shot, nobody would’ve said a word. We’d have gotten a stop and that would’ve been it. I’m not gonna come down on anyone for that kind of possession.”

Fournier, who played a solid all-around game with 18 points, four rebounds, and three steals, said of Adebayo’s shot that it wasn’t the kind of shot you expect to fall from Adebayo.

“He had (three) threes this year. I just checked it. That’s basketball, bro,” Fournier said of Adebayo and his game-winner.

Despite the Pistons losing on the game’s final possession, Detroit had several opportunities to pull away. They sputtered out the gate, allowing Miami to score the first seven points of the game, but got on the board with back-to-back baskets by Isaiah Stewart to keep the game manageable at 9-4. The Heat turned up the heat to take a 13-4 advantage before Williams called a timeout to regroup. After doing so, the Pistons used their own 7-0 run to pull within two, 13-11, and Detroit was able to take a 23-21 lead at the end of the first quarter.

But Robinson found his rhythm. Robinson, who scored six first-quarter points, netted 15 points in the second quarter alone, shooting 7-of-9 from the field and 5-of-7 from three in the first half. Robinson and Terry Rozier ignited a run that a two-point Miami lead into a 10-point Miami lead, 60-50, over the final four minutes of the second quarter.

“It wasn’t so much our scheme as much as it was our awareness of who was hot. We did not have great awareness of (Robinson’s) scoring ability in the second. We have to be more of a consistent team,” Williams said.

The second unit breathed life into the Pistons in the third quarter, wiping away a 17-point deficit to pull the Pistons to within one point after closing the third quarter on a 16-2 run.

Fast-forward to late in the fourth quarter, a big Cunningham three pointer with about 2:10 left in the game brought the Pistons to within one point, 97-96, but Robinson, the University of Michigan alum, immediately answered on the next offensive possession, knocking down a deep elbow three and getting fouled in the process. He hit a free throw to put the Heat ahead 101-96. Two plays later, Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart buried a corner three to pull the Pistons within two, 101-99.

Cunningham converted on a layup out of a timeout to tie the game at 101 apiece before Adebayo’s heroics sealed the game for the Heat.

With the win, Miami moves to 37-30 on the season while Detroit falls to 12-55.

“When you lose a game like that it’s hard to come down on the team about anything,” Williams said.

Robinson finished the game with a game-high 30 points, while Adebayo scored 20 to go along with 16 rebounds, and Rozier added 17. For the Pistons, Cunningham was held scoreless until five minutes remaining in the first half, but finished the game with 17 points, as six Pistons scored in double figures, and Jalen Duren finished with an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double.

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