Detroit − The Pistons were dominated by a shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers team in a 112-88 loss on Friday, their third consecutive loss.
The Cavaliers (7-1), once on the same path as the rebuilding Pistons (2-8), entered Friday’s game as winners of six consecutive games, tied for the second-best record in the NBA.
Cleveland lacked their dynamic All-Star backcourt of Darius Garland and newly-acquired Donovan Mitchell due to injuries. Garland was out with a left knee sprain and Mitchell was sidelined due to a left ankle sprain.
One thing was apparent from the start of the game. Detroit had a severe size disadvantage, and Cleveland knew just how to exploit it.
The Cavaliers ran the majority of their offense through center Jarrett Allen, who scored a game-high 23 points on 11-of-16 from the field. He added seven rebounds and two blocks.
Allen’s punctuating play of the night came in the third quarter when he threw down a one-handed dunk over Isaiah Stewart.
Rebounding was a key stat in this game as the Cavaliers had a 47-34 edge on the boards, mostly thanks to the trio of Allen, Evan Mobley and Kevin Love, who totaled 21 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists off the bench. Detroit dug itself into an insurmountable hole when the Cavaliers produced a 33-point second quarter. Cleveland led by as many as 30 points.
BOX SCORE: Cavaliers 112, Pistons 88
Cade Cunningham led the Pistons with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists. Jaden Ivey had 18 points, six rebounds and three assists. Saddiq Bey added 18 points and four rebounds.
Stewart entered the game on a bit of a hot streak after three consecutive double-doubles, but he had a slow start Friday night as he picked up two early fouls. Nerlens Noel made his Little Caesars debut during Stewart’s foul trouble, but only managed to grab four rebounds in nearly 19 minutes. When Stewart committed his third foul in the first half, Pistons coach Dwane Casey inserted Kevin Knox into the game at center, but it didn’t help as the Cavaliers continued to punish the Pistons inside the paint.
The Pistons struggled to adjust to their size disadvantage in two games against the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this week. That continued against the Cavaliers, who maintained their defensive intensity throughout the night. Evan Mobley, who was picked two spots in last year’s draft after Cunningham, successfully defended the interior and compiled a career-high eight blocks to go along with 11 points and eight rebounds. His 7-foot frame made shot contests nearly as comparable to his rejections.
Aside from rebounding, the other main disparity amongst both teams were bench points. Cleveland’s reserves outscored Detroit’s 54-21. Pistons forward Isaiah Livers accounted for 11 of those points, while a struggling Killian Hayes totaled just two points.
Detroit desperately needs help from its bench while they await the return of Marvin Bagley, Alec Burks and Jalen Duren, who missed his third consecutive game on Friday.
The Pistons missed a prime opportunity to take advantage of Mitchell and Garland’s absence in Friday’s loss and they’ll look to snap their three-game losing streak when the Oklahoma City Thunder visits LCA on Sunday.