The Detroit Pistons and the Cleveland Cavaliers matched up at the Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday night in a game that literally has no effect on the standings. Both teams will finish in the bottom two of the division. That doesn’t mean these two teams can’t give a good game.
Rodney Stuckey, again starting for the injured Jose Calderon, started off the scoring with a driving layup. Then Stuckey would get inside again and find Andre Drummond for a couple of slams. This would become a recurring theme.
Stuckey found Drummond again for a layup, he then found Kyle Singler on the break for a layup, Stuckey threw a lob to Drummond for the slam, and Drummond found Greg Monroe for a layup. Monroe had another layup, then Jonas Jerebko had a layup, Stuckey would drive in for another. It was a layup parade for Detroit. They led 28-24 after one, 24 of those points came in the paint.
The 2nd quarter started off with another Detroit layup, this one from Will Bynum. Khris Middleton had an off the dribble jumper to put the Pistons up 32-30, but with no Drummond and Monroe down low, Cleveland began to stir.
Cavaliers rookie Dion Waiters had a layup and an And-1 against Pistons rookie Kim English. Omri Casspi had some free throws and Kevin Jones had a tip-in for a 39-32 Cavs lead. Jones had a dunk and Mareese Speights had a layup for a 43-34 lead and a Lawrence Frank time out.
Drummond and Monroe quickly came back in for the ineffective Charlie Villanueva and Jerebko. Stuckey came out of the time out and knocked down back-to-back 3’s and then Bynum found Drummond for a dunk. Monroe followed with a layup and four possessions later, Monroe threw a nifty pass to a cutting Brandon Knight for a slam. Stuckey would add a jumper at the buzzer and at the end of an eventful 2nd quarter, Detroit led 53-49.
The 3rd quarter started with a familiar tone. A Drummond dunk, followed by a Monroe dunk, and then another Drummond dunk. The Pistons big men were tough to handle inside. Later, Drummond had another dunk, followed by an And-1 dunk. Detroit had a 72-61 lead.
Cleveland would end the quarter on a 14-2 run behind star Kyrie Irving and big man Tyler Zeller. Cleveland led 75-74 lead after three.
The Will Bynum Experience began to take over in the 4th. Bynum had his assortment of jumpers, running jumpers, layups, and he knocked down 3’s. After Cleveland got within 89-87 on a Waiters layup, the Cavaliers went with the “Hack-a-Dre” to send Drummond to the line at the 5:21 mark.
Drummond, a 34% free throw shooter, knocked down 1-of-2 free throws every time they sent him to the line. The Cavaliers would send Drummond to the line up until the 2:00 time limit. On the final “Hack-a-Dre” free throw attempts, he knocked both of them down. He then followed with a tip-in for a 103-99 lead.
Tristan Thompson and Irving would tie the game, but “The Moose” took Thompson to the rim and got a layup for 105-103 lead 38 seconds to go. It turned out to be the game winner and the Pistons would go on to win 111-104.
Drummond had a career high 29 points, on 10/11 shooting, and 11 rebounds, Monroe had 23 and eight rebounds, and Stuckey had 18.
My bright spots are the big men. We’ve been waiting all season to see Drummond and Monroe together and tonight was the night. They had 52 points and 19 rebounds combined and helped Detroit to 60 points in the paint. It was great to see a glimpse of the future and the future looked very bright.