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James leads Heat to win over Pistons, fourth in a row

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Associated Press
3/24/2012 12:02:24 AM
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- LeBron James and the Miami Heat were thinking about a lot more than basketball Friday.

All anyone needed to do was look at their shoes.

James and Dwyane Wade were among several Miami players who took the floor with messages on their sneakers about the death of an unarmed black teenager who was shot by a neighbourhood crime-watch volunteer in a suburb of Orlando, Fla. The Heat made quick work of the Pistons in an 88-73 victory, but the focus afterward was on the team's decision to speak out.

Miami also posed for a picture earlier in the day wearing team-logo hoodies. Trayvon Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt when he was shot last month.

"As leaders, as role models, we're happy that we're able to shed light on a situation that we feel isn't right," James said. "That's why we did that today."

James had 17 points and 10 assists, and Wade added 24 points for Miami, which won its fourth straight. The game itself was unremarkable, but the Heat attracted attention well before the opening tip.

Martin was killed as he was returning to a gated community, carrying candy and iced tea. A neighbourhood crime-watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, said he acted in self-defence. He has not been arrested, though state and federal authorities are still investigating.

Protests have popped up nationwide in recent days, and Wade posted a photo of himself wearing a hooded shirt to his Twitter and Facebook pages Friday morning. A couple hours later, James posted another photo -- this one of 13 Heat players, all wearing team-logo hoodies, their heads bowed, their hands stuffed into their pockets.

"Just a sign of support from us and our team," Wade said. "I'm glad that everybody really was on board with it and wanted to do it, because a lot of times it's hard for guys to take that leap and step out and get into the political world. For us, we just want to support his family, in memory of him."

Players took the floor with messages such as "RIP Trayvon Martin" and "We want justice" scrawled on their shoes.

Miami then took control of the game early. The Heat led by 26 in the third quarter, although Detroit did rally to make it respectable.

Brandon Knight scored 18 points for the Pistons, who have lost five of six.

"We knew exactly how they were going to defend us, but we weren't able to do much against them," Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "We kept trying to move the ball through the forest of hands, and they were getting all kinds of tips and deflections."

Detroit trailed 72-57 after three and cut the deficit to single digits early in the fourth. After Jonas Jerebko's reverse dunk on a breakaway made it 74-65, the Heat took a timeout with 8:58 to play.

Wade made a floater to start a 10-2 run.

Detroit was without guard Rodney Stuckey, out with a sore left big toe. Ben Gordon, who made all nine of his 3-point attempts in a 45-point effort at Denver on Wednesday night, went 0 for 4 from beyond the arc and scored 10 points.

Miami's Joel Anthony returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday's win over Phoenix with a sprained left ankle. He scored six points.

The Heat shot 57 per cent in the first half and finished the second quarter strong. Wade's layup off a pass from James with 4.3 seconds remaining made it 59-36, and Chris Bosh blocked Will Bynum's attempt at a driving layup at the other end.

James intercepted a pass near midcourt in the third quarter and found Wade alone downcourt for an alley-oop dunk. Mario Chalmers then sank a 3-pointer to make it 70-44.

"We're playing some good basketball right now," James said. "Other than our turnovers in the third, for the most part we played a great game tonight."

NOTES: Knight now holds Detroit's rookie record for 3-pointers after making four Friday for a season total of 73. Lindsey Hunter made 69 in 1993-94. ... Miami's Mike Miller remained out with a sprained left ankle.

LeBron James (Photo:  Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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