AUBURN HILLS (CBSMiami/AP) — It was the biggest game of the season for both teams (up until now) and it came down to some late game heroics.
Hassan Whiteside tipped in a shot at the buzzer to lift the Miami Heat over the Detroit Pistons 97-96 on Tuesday night.
Miami is a game up on Chicago for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and 2 1/2 games ahead of Detroit.
Whiteside jumped over Andre Drummond to tip in Goran Dragic’s missed jumper. The final play was reviewed and confirmed.
Dragic scored 28 points and Whiteside finished with 17 points and nine rebounds for the Heat (36-38).
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 25 points and Tobias Harris and Ish Smith each scored 19 for the Pistons (34-41). Detroit lost its fifth straight and eighth in nine games.
The Pistons led 96-92 after Smith’s jumper with 30 seconds left. Dragic hit a free throw and then made a jumper to cut the deficit to one with 24 seconds left.
Miami raced to a 19-12 first-quarter lead, but the Pistons tied it at 19 on Harris’ layup. The teams ended the period at 24-24.
The Heat started to pull away in the second quarter, taking a 37-28 edge on Whiteside’s basket. The Pistons fought back, though, getting within 49-48 on Caldwell-Pope’s layup. Miami took a 55-50 halftime lead.
Miami took its biggest lead, 72-60, on Dragic’s layup midway through the third quarter. Detroit rallied but still trailed 78-69 entering the final period.
Heat: F Josh McRoberts (left foot), F Justise Winslow (right shoulder) and G Dion Waiters (left ankle) did not play. … The Heat and Pistons split the season series at two games apiece. … After an 11-26 start, Miami is now in good position to make the playoffs. The Heat trailed the Pistons for much of the season.
Pistons: PG Reggie Jackson (rest) was inactive for the second straight game. He also missed the team’s loss at New York on Monday. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Smith before missing the past two games. Coach Stan Van Gundy said Jackson is day-to-day. … G Reggie Bullock (right foot) did not play.
Heat: At New York on Wednesday.
Pistons: Host Brooklyn on Thursday.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)