Dwyane Wade planted himself at the foul line. Shaquille O'Neal planted himself beneath the rim. And with Tuesday's 94-82 victory over the Grizzles, the Heat may have planted the seeds of a resurgence for the second half of the season.
"We're coming around," O'Neal said. "Hopefully this is what's to come."
With many of its players doing what they do best, the Heat turned a 17-7 third-quarter surge into an easy victory against one of the better teams in the Western Conference.
Making it a point to make his points one at a time after failing to convert his lone free throw in Sunday's victory over Sacramento, Wade shot 13 of 20 from the line on the way to scoring 25.
"Tonight he was just committed," coach Pat Riley said of his guard's relentless march to the foul line.
When Wade did miss on his 6-of-12 night from the field, O'Neal was there for cleanup duty. Continuing his recent revival, the Heat center closed with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
"He's grabbing the ball strongly. He's catching the ball in traffic now," Riley said. "It's positioning. It's conditioning. It's getting your head under the rim."
And, with Riley, it's getting into his players' heads.
Two days after challenging Wade's defensive disposition, Riley turned his attention before Tuesday's game to O'Neal's rebounding.
"He told me he needed 20 rebounds from me," O'Neal said. "So I owe him five. I'll get them (Wednesday) in practice."
Asked if that would count, O'Neal said, "They all count."
When O'Neal wasn't dominating on offense, backup center Alonzo Mourning was controlling the lane on defense, with a remarkably efficient nine-point, five-rebound, three-block game that included only one field-goal attempt.
Factor in 14 points from point guard Jason Williams, 11 rebounds from power forward Udonis Haslem, and a banked-in 3-pointer from reserve forward Antoine Walker and there were smiles all around as the Heat opened the second 41 games of its schedule.
Pistons flip away Wolves
The night started with a few simple waves and nods of acknowledgement.
But when Flip Saunders was announced as the head coach for the opposing team Tuesday night, the Target Center crowd rose to its feet and gave him a standing ovation, the closest resemblance of a sendoff for Saunders, who was fired almost a year ago after 10 years as head coach.
Minnesota's Kevin Garnett, like a long-lost son to Saunders, capped the moment when he jogged across the court, slapped hands and embraced Saunders.
The night just about ended as soon as another former member of the Timberwolves, Pistons guard Chauncey Billups, found his touch in the third quarter.
Billups scored 18 of his 27 points in the third quarter, draining jumper after jumper, turning a close game into a 107-83 rout.
"It was a great reception," Saunders said. "A lot of great fans, the people were great tonight and it was a good evening."
In other NBA action: Philadelphia 109, Sacramento 103; Cleveland 96, Indiana 66; Orlando 111, Phoenix 102; San Antonio 104, Charlotte 76.