Shorthanded Cavaliers falter late in 115-113 loss to Pistons
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - With trade speculation surrounding their star player and several key injuries abound, it would have been easy for the Cleveland Cavaliers to fold like origami against a struggling Detroit Pistons team on Tuesday night. The exact opposite happened.
The Cavs led Detroit at the end of each of the first three quarters on Tuesday, but couldn’t hold on late en route to a 115-113 defeat in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
“We’re about to go on a really long road trip, and that’s not the way you want to send us off,” Cavs head coach John Beilein said after the game. “Really disappointed, because I thought we played with a lot of energy, we played hard, not as smart in some areas but we really played hard.
“I thought we played connected, as well.”
The trade rumors that have surrounded Cavs power forward Kevin Love all season were ratcheted up the past few days after the five-time All-Star showed visible signs of frustration in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder last week. Against the Pistons on Tuesday, the Cavs were without Larry Nance Jr. and standout rookie forward Kevin Porter Jr., who suffered a knee injury in Cleveland’s previous outing. Also mired in a losing season, it would have been easy for the Cavs (10-27) to lack the motivation to get a victory against Detroit (14-24). Instead, they fought until the end, together.
Despite a double-double from Pistons center Andre Drummond in the first quarter alone (11 points, 10 rebounds), the Cavs took a 29-27 lead into the second. After shooting 57 percent from the field in the first quarter in comparison to Detroit’s 40 percent shooting, the Cavs put some distance between themselves and Detroit in the second quarter.
Cleveland opened the second quarter with a 20-7 run, capped by a Cedi Osman dunk, to take their largest lead of the game at 49-34. Cleveland led 67-54 at halftime and weren’t threatened until late in the second half when Detroit cut an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game at 105 with 3:55 remaining in regulation.
Detroit hadn’t enjoyed a lead since a 16-15 score with 6:27 remaining in the first quarter, but regained the lead when Tony Snell drained a three-pointer with 53 seconds to play that gave the Pistons a 112-111 advantage. Cavs guard Collin Sexton sank two free throws on the ensuing possession to put Cleveland back up two points, but former Cavalier Derrick Rose splashed a wide open floater with 26 seconds that put Detroit back up, 114-113.
After a stoppage in play, Cleveland had the ball with 7.8 seconds showing and a chance to win the game. Sexton, however, missed a floater and Detroit got the rebound. The Cavs were forced to foul, and Andre Drummond converted 1-of-2 free throws that essentially iced the game.
Amidst the controversy, Love led Cleveland with a season-high tying 30 points with nine rebounds and four assists against Detroit.
“We talked,” Beilein said about Love’s frustrations. “It’s a long season, and you’re going to have those times when frustrations come up really on both sides. You just have to talk it out afterwards, and I think he knows that there’s timing for all that and the timing has to be better.”
Sexton totaled 20 points, two rebounds and two assists, while Cavs point guard Darius Garland finished with 14 points, the sixth straight game he has reached double-figures (career high). Cedi Osman scored 17 points, and Brandon Knight scored a season-high 13 points with five assists and two rebounds.
Tristan Thompson totaled eight points, 15 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. With the two blocks, Thompson passed Roy Hinson (430 blocks) for sixth place in Cavs franchise history. The Cavs center also reached double-digit rebounds for eighth time in the last nine games.
The Pistons were without several key players themselves, missing Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard and Markieff Morris against Cleveland. Drummond and Rose picked up the slack, as the former totaled 23 points and 20 rebounds, while Rose finished with 24 points and seven assists. Snell chipped-in 18 points and four rebounds.
Detroit closed a six-game road trip with a hard-fought victory, while the Cavs wrapped a four-game homestand on a five-game losing streak.
POSTED 01/07/2020 22:08