Work in Sports
MIAMI (Ticker) -- Without Grant Hill to worry about, Jamal Mashburn has gotten the Miami Heat through their first-round fears.
Mashburn's spinning bank shot with six seconds left gave the Heat an 84-82 victory over the pesky Detroit Pistons and a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference opening-round series.
Just barely, the second-seeded Heat held on to their home-court advantage and can advance to the conference semifinals for the first time since 1997 with a win Saturday in Detroit. Miami blew a pair of big leads and had just one basket in the final six minutes until they were saved for the second straight game by Mashburn.
"We were very fortunate to win," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "We had some opportunities in the third quarter to open up a 10-point lead and we let them back into it. We'll take it and move on."
The 6-8 forward was expected to have his hands full with Hill, Detroit's versatile All-Star forward. But Hill has been hobbled by an ankle bruise and tonight sat out the last 20-plus minutes. He scored only nine points in 21 minutes and was not a factor.
Mashburn has taken complete advantage. He scored a playoff career-high 29 points in Game One and had 10 of his 24 in the final period tonight, including the winning basket.
Working against Michael Curry, Mashburn drove left, spun into the lane and floated up a bank shot that gave Miami the lead. It was the Heat's first basket since Alonzo Mourning's dunk at the 6:03 mark.
"It is tough to run an offensive set late in the game," Riley said. "They know our sets and take away the trigger passer. I decided to isolate Jamal and go 1-on-1. The only thing I told him was to watch the clock."
A malfunction of the 24-second clocks forced them to be moved from above the backboard to the corner.
"Coach Riley said if we get the ball back, run an isolation," Mashburn said. "Dan (Majerle) reminded me when the clock was running down because it's difficult when the shot clock's in the corner. I had to watch the clock and be careful of Michael swiping at the ball. I tried to get it down to the last possible second and win the game."
On the final possession, Detroit's Jerry Stackhouse slipped and lost control of the ball. He regained it but time ran out and the Pistons suffered their sixth straight playoff road loss.
"Jerry was supposed to take it 1-on-1 from the middle of the court. His options were better," Pistons interim coach George Irvine said. "We had a shooter in the corner if the defender came to help. There was a shooter on his left and an unbalanced court. If nobody came to help we felt fairly confident, like the Heat did with Mashburn, that he could pull up and shoot the jumper or take the ball to the basket."
"That was the ideal situation," Stackhouse said. "You have a chance to win it at the end and I slipped. That's all I can say. I took it in, thought they would call the foul, but they didn't."
As the higher seed, Miami had lost one of its initial two home games in the first round in each of the last two seasons, going on to lose each series in a decisive fifth game at home.
"That's what we're supposed to be doing," Heat forward Clarence Weatherspoon said. "We have the home-court advantage and we pulled this one out. All we need is one more."
"It doesn't mean anything if we don't try to close it out," added Miami forward P.J. Brown. "We don't want a repeat of history."
Hill will have an MRI on Wednesday to determine the extent of his injury, which limited him to 13 points in Game One. Like all of his teammates, he was dejected in the locker room.
"We'll see tomorrow," he said. "We'll see how it feels."
Stackhouse tried to pick up the slack for Hill and scored 26 points, but just two in the fourth quarter. Detroit has not won a playoff series since 1991.
"They protected their home court, which is what they're supposed to do," Stackhouse said. "Hopefully we'll go home, regroup and cut down on our mistakes."
"It's a lost opportunity," Irvine said. "It makes it even tougher on us. I was proud of our guys playing as hard as they did. We are in a hell of a hole that Miami has created and we have to claw our way out."
Mourning had 22 points and eight rebounds and rookie Anthony Carter added 10 and a playoff franchise-record 13 assists for Miami. Carter again started for point guard Tim Hardaway, who is out with sprains in his right ankle and left foot.
"Everyone forgets that we don't have Tim," Majerle said. "Our guys step up and have done a good job. Their guys will do the same."
Seemingly out of it, the Pistons scored 14 straight points --the first four on free throws by Stackhouse and the last four on two jumpers by Curry -- to take their largest lead at 70-65 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
Miami trailed 74-71 before rattling off nine straight points.
Mourning had a dunk and two free throws to cap the burst and, after Stackhouse made a driving bank shot, made two more from the line for an 82-76 lead with 2:51 remaining.
Former Heat Terry Mills, who scored 11 points, made a 3-pointer and Lindsey Hunter had a free throw and a steal that led to Jerome Williams' tying layup with 58 seconds left. Majerle missed a 3-pointer and Stackhouse had his drive into traffic blocked, setting up Mashburn's shot.
Brown scored 12 points and Majerle added 10 for Miami, which shot 45 percent (32-of-71) from the field and held a 42-32 rebounding advantage. The Heat's bench scored only six points.
"They played extremely hard," Majerle said. "We didn't play that great but we played hard enough to get the win. It was a tough fourth quarter but that's what the playoffs are all about."
Curry scored 10 points for the Pistons, who shot 47 percent (32-of-68) and got 20 points from their bench.
"I thought the guys played great," Hill said. "They played awesome and we just came up a little short at the end. Mashburn hit an unbelievable shot and we had our chance to tie it up.
That's pretty much all you can ask for."
Guarded by the hobbled Hill, Mashburn got off to the same quick start he did in Game One. He scored 10 points in the first quarter and Hill went to the bench with his second foul with 5:53 left in the period.
Miami led 24-19 after one quarter and widened the advantage to 31-21 on consecutive jumpers by Mourning and Carter early in the second period. Detroit appeared dead as Hill clearly was hurting and no one besides Stackhouse was providing offense.
Mills came alive with seven straight points and a drive by Stackhouse capped a 15-4 burst that featured no points from Hill and gave Detroit a 38-37 lead with 2:58 left in the first half.
Hunter's layup kept the edge at 45-44 entering intermission.
Hill sat down for good with 8 1/2 minutes to play in the third quarter and the Heat took advantage. They used a 10-2 burst highlighted by four points and two assists from Carter to open a 65-56 lead. But the Pistons again fought back and took the lead into the final period.
"We have a lot of capable guys who can step up," Hunter said.
"You just can't crawl up and die."