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Augustin, Pistons race past Heat

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — D.J. Augustin saw his playing time suddenly expand over the past two weeks. He is settling into his new role as the Detroit Pistons’ primary floor leader, as the Miami Heat discovered Tuesday.

Augustin racked up 25 points and a season-high 13 assists without a turnover, and the Pistons overcame a season-high-tying 34 points from Chris Bosh to pound the Heat 108-91 at The Palace.

The loss of starting point guard Brandon Jennings to a season-ending Achilles tendon tear thrust Augustin into the starting lineup. Detroit lost its first three games without Jennings but won its past two with Augustin averaging 26.5 points and 12.5 assists in the victories.

“We’re all good players, but if you get a chance to play a lot of minutes, obviously you’re going to do better,” he said. “Just by feeling comfortable and getting in the rhythm of the game, you play better.”

Augustin sparked the Pistons’ 25-1 run at the end of the first quarter with seven points and four assists. Detroit (19-30) never looked back, leading anywhere from eight to 21 points the rest of the way.

“It’s easier, certainly, to play as a starter and to know you’re going to get the minutes to really get in a rhythm,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “That’s certainly helping. He’s playing with great confidence, and he’s really on the attack.”

Shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 18 points and center Andre Drummond contributed 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Pistons. Small forward Kyle Singler added 13 points, and power forward Greg Monroe chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds.

Bosh, Miami’s All-Star power forward, scored 21 of his points in the third quarter. Center Hassan Whiteside supplied 11 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks for the Heat, who lost for the third time in four games.

“The first quarter they played at a much harder, competitive pace than we did,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. “That set the tempo for the game at both ends of the court.”

Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade missed his third consecutive game with a right hamstring strain. Small forward Luol Deng, who sat out the previous three games with a left calf strain, added 10 points and five rebounds.

Like Augustin, Caldwell-Pope scored seven points during the 25-1 run while the Heat missed their last 13 shots in the opening quarter and committed two turnovers. That gave the Pistons a 33-12 lead.

“The last seven minutes of the first quarter were as well as we’ve played all year,” Van Gundy said. “That’s really where the game was decided. After that, it was a pretty even game. I think we did a good job at the end of the closing it out, but our energy early was tremendous.”

The Pistons scored 14 of their 22 fast-break points in the quarter.

“Everybody was running the floor, rebounding, playing defense together and pushing it in transition,” Augustin said. “That got us going. That’s how we want to play every night.”

Augustin’s 3-pointer early in the third gave the Pistons a 61-41 lead, but Bosh refused to let Detroit coast to victory. He reached the 30-point mark by erupting for 17 points in six-plus minutes, capped by an elbow jumper to make it 71-58.

Bosh’s 21-point quarter was the highest by a Heat player this season, surpassing Wade’s 17-point quarter against Utah on Dec. 17. The Pistons were undeterred, and when Augustin made a layup in the closing seconds, their lead was back to 18.

“Augustin was in the paint all night,” Bosh said. “He’s been playing well the last two weeks. We have to expect him to have a huge impact.”

Miami (21-27) never got closer than 12 in the fourth.

NOTES: Miami reserve PF Shawne Williams sat out with a hip injury. … Heat C Hassan Whiteside shot 67 percent from the field in January, the second-highest monthly percentage in franchise history (minimum 40 field-goal attempts) behind Shaquille O’Neal’s 68 percent shooting in April 2006. “He’s been the story of this season as far as somebody people wouldn’t have expected (to excel),” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I give him a lot of credit for coming out of nowhere and them a lot of credit for finding him.” … Detroit’s 10 victories in January were its highest total since a 10-win month in March 2008. … Pistons C Andre Drummond and PF Greg Monroe are the league’s top rebounding duo at 23.2 rpg, 1.6 more than the second-place pair of Chicago C Joakim Noah and PF Pau Gasol. … Miami has started 19 different lineups after using 21 last season. The Pistons have used only five.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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