For three quarters, the Detroit Pistons appeared to be on the verge of avoiding a schedule loss. They were less than two days removed from a 12-day, six-game road trip, and faced a Cleveland Cavaliers team that appears to be a contender in the Eastern Conference.
But the Cavaliers used a late 23-10 run in the fourth quarter to rally for a 102-94 win over the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena, behind a 32-point night from star guard Donovan Mitchell. Evan Mobley added a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Darius Garland also had a double-double (19 points, 10 assists).
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Marvin Bagley III finished with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double, Alec Burks provided 17 points off the bench and Killian Hayes added 16 points and eight assists. Saddiq Bey returned from a four-game absence and scored 15 points. The Pistons were without Jaden Ivey (right knee soreness) for the second straight game, and Bojan Bogdanovic (right knee and ankle soreness). Cade Cunningham and Isaiah Stewart also missed their 10th and seventh games in a row, respectively.
Through three quarters, the Pistons were mostly in control. They held the advantage for nearly 34 of 36 minutes, with the Cavs holding the lead for just 37 seconds. Detroit’s biggest lead was by 12 points in the first quarter; the Cavs otherwise kept the margin close before their game-winning run.
Cleveland finally found some consistency in the fourth quarter, using a 14-6 run to take a 93-90 lead with 4:54 to play. It was a Mobley 3, his second of the night, that gave Cleveland the lead for good. Hayes knocked down a floater with 2:30 on the clock to cut the deficit to 94-92, but Mitchell hit a dagger 3 with 2:09 remaining that effectively put the game away. Mitchell hit a pair of free throws with 1:16 to go to extend Cleveland’s lead to seven.
Bagley extends hot scoring streak
Sunday marked Bagley’s sixth straight game scoring in double figures, and the seventh time in eight games since he began starting on Nov. 14. In those other seven games as a starter, he averaged 13.2 points on a scorching-hot 60% shooting in just 24.2 minutes a game.
Detroit needed more minutes against the Cavaliers, though, with Bogdanovic, Cunningham and Ivey in street clothes. He delivered his best game of the season, setting a season high in points and tallying his second straight double-double.
Bagley scored in typical Bagley fashion — mostly inside — except for a late 3 in the second quarter that helped the Pistons carry a 56-51 lead into halftime. He also had perhaps his best defensive game of the season, finishing with three steals and a block.
Bey didn’t look rusty in return
Until a week ago, Bey had been an ironman for the Pistons. He only missed two games as a rookie, and both were coaching decisions rather than health-related. He then played all 82 games as a sophomore, one of just five players to accomplish the feat last season.
A sprained ankle, suffered against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 18, though, has already cost him more games this season than in his previous two combined. But he wasted little time picking up where he left off Sunday. His first points of the night were a three-point play, as he spun past Evan Mobley and finished through contact from Robin Lopez, who picked up his second foul, to extend Detroit’s lead to 10-2 early in the first quarter.
Bey’s next three buckets were layups — two in transition — before he finally hit his first 3-pointer with 8:55 remaining in the third quarter.