Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons outplayed by Evan Mobley, Cavs in sloppy 98-78 loss

Detroit Free Press

CLEVELAND — Midway through the third quarter, a bad pass from Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham led to a transition dunk for the Cleveland Cavaliers and a 21-point deficit. At that point in the game, the Pistons had more turnovers (17) than made shots (16).

That sums up the night the Pistons had on Friday. They struggled to shoot, struggled to take care of the ball and were thoroughly outplayed by one of the Eastern Conference’s biggest surprises. The Cavaliers defeated the Pistons at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, 98-78.

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There weren’t many positives for the Pistons (2-9), who shot just 36.7% overall, 30% from 3 (9-for-30) and committed 23 turnovers against 18 assists. Seven of those turnovers were by Cunningham, who had a quiet night with nine points, six rebounds and three assists. Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 16 points.

Darius Garland paced the Cavs (8-5) with 24 points and six assists, and Evan Mobley — the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 draft — continued his hot start to the season with 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Cedi Osman added 17 points off the bench.

With Kelly Olynyk out, Luka Garza enters rotation

The Pistons entered Friday’s game at a disadvantage, as Kelly Olynyk — one of their key reserves and best overall players this season — sprained the MCL in his left knee during the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets. Olynyk will be re-evaluated in six weeks, meaning he may not return until the Pistons’ Dec. 26 game against the San Antonio Spurs at the earliest.

To fill the void at center, the Pistons called up Garza from the Motor City Cruise on Friday morning. Coach Dwane Casey was forced to call Garza’s number early in the first quarter, after Isaiah Stewart picked up his second foul 82 seconds into the game.

Jarrett Allen posed an athletic mismatch against Garza, and delivered two highlight plays on Garza on consecutive possessions in the first quarter. By the middle of the quarter, Casey subbed in Trey Lyles. Garza closed the game and finished with a career-high 13:59 minutes played.

The Cavaliers had a size advantage over the Pistons, as no Piston was able to do much to bother Mobley, a true 7-footer.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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