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The Detroit Pistons were looking to bounce back from a disappointing 108-104 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. For a half in Cleveland it looked like the Cavaliers would drop the Pistons to another loss.
The first half in for the Pistons was a bad one, but also a good one. They were out-rebounded by the Cavs 26-13 in the half and allowed the Cavaliers to score 17 second chance points. Just like Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer the night before, Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller were attacking the boards and the Pistons had no answer. Greg Monroe didn’t even grab his first rebound until the 6:37 mark of the 2nd quarter.
Yet somehow, the Pistons were only down 52-49 at the half after a Kyle Singler steal and And-1 just before the half. Varejao and Zeller had identical 11 and 7 lines and Tayshaun Prince led the Pistons with 10 points at the half and Singler had nine.
The second half was a different story. Brandon Knight awoke. Knight had 10 points in the third quarter and was making huge plays all over the court. The biggest sequence was with the Pistons down 63-66. Knight drove the lane then kicked it out to Rodney Stuckey who knocked down a triple to tie the game at 66. The next possession, he found Jason Maxiell for a jumper to tie it at 68 and the possession after that, he knocked down a 3 to put the Pistons up for good 71-68 with 1:36 left in the third.
Knight would later add a turnaround jumper and Andre Drummond had a layup and Detroit led 76-70 after three.
In the fourth, the Pistons started to connect from triple land. Charlie Villanueva hit a 3 to put Detroit up 81-72. Knight then had a thunder slam and hit a 3-pointer himself to put the Pistons up 86-74. After a C.J. Miles turnover, Knight drove in for a layup and an 88-74 lead. Stuckey and Villanueva hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Detroit up 94-80 with 6:06 to play, but in classic Detroit action, they started to get lackadaisical and the Cavaliers almost stole another one from the Pistons.
A 9-0 Cavaliers run which included a Varejao layup and concluded with a Daniel Gibson 3 caused Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank to call a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Frank called a play for his second year point guard. Knight came through and knocked down a big time triple to put Detroit up 97-89 with 2:56 left.
After Cleveland got to within 99-95 on a Varejao free throw, Stuckey hit a dagger jumper to put Detroit up 101-95 with 18.3 to play. Knight and Prince put the game away with free throws down the stretch and the Pistons earned their first road win since November, 14 against the 76ers in Philly. Knight finished with a career high 30 points, 23 coming in the second half, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out five assists. Prince had 14 and grabbed eight rebounds.
Jeremy Pargo led the Cavaliers with 24 points, Varejao had 16 and 12 boards, Zeller finished with 13 and eight boards, and Alonzo Gee had 12 and nine rebounds.
Up next for the Pistons is the 76ers on Monday at the Wells Fargo Center, the site of their other road win.
-Ky Carlin, KC
Follow me on Twitter: @Ky_Carlin
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