CLEVELAND — The Detroit Pistons lost the first quarter by 18 points, and the fourth quarter by 20 points. The final margin of the game was as bad as you’d expect.
Despite missing their top two scorers in Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, the Cleveland Cavaliers easily handled the Pistons on Wednesday, defeating them 113-85 on the eve of the trade deadline. Detroit managed to cut the deficit to two midway through the third quarter, but their burst of strong play in the middle of the game was bookended by a poor start and finish.
The Pistons shot a season-low 37% overall, 25% from 3 and didn’t have an answer for Cleveland’s physicality and size up front. The Cavaliers’ frontcourt duo of Jarrett Allen (20 points, 14 rebounds) and Evan Mobley (19 points, eight rebounds) set the tone early. Bojan Bogdanovic led Detroit with 15 points, Jalen Duren scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Jaden Ivey added 10 points.
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Killian Hayes was promoted back to the starting lineup — in favor of Alec Burks — after coming off the bench for six straight games, and tallied nine points and six assists. Saddiq Bey was moved to the bench and finished with seven points and six rebounds
Eyes will now turn to the trade deadline at 3 p.m. Thursday. The Pistons, per sources, are valuing their core players highly and are seeking an unprotected first-round pick in any trade packages involving Bogdanovic.
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Pistons suffer poor start, finish
Even without their star backcourt of Mitchell and Garland, the Cavaliers were a tough matchup for Detroit — thanks to their frontcourt. Cleveland outrebounded the Pistons, 17-7, in the opening quarter, including a 7-2 advantage on the offensive boards. Mobley and Allen combined for 21 points, posing issues for the Pistons’ young big man duo of Stewart and Duren.
Cleveland opened the game with an 11-2 run in the first 2 minutes and 38 seconds. By that point, the Pistons had two shot attempts, three turnovers and had already given up four offensive rebounds. Detroit trailed, 32-14, at the end of the quarter. It was their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season.
Not much went right early for the Pistons, who looked lethargic. They shot just 6-for-20 overall in the first quarter and dished just two assists.
Unfortunately, not much went right in the final period either. Cleveland opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run to stretch their lead to 17, erasing the work Detroit did in the second and third to whittle a blowout deficit down to two points. A layup from Michigan alumnus Caris LeVert gave the Cavaliers a 30-point lead, and a 26-4 scoring edge in the quarter.
Third quarter rally not enough
A layup from Raul Neto extended Cleveland’s lead back to 18 midway through the second period. Then, the Pistons showed signs of life. Bogdanovic scored 10 of his 15 points in the period to help Detroit cut the deficit to single digits at halftime. Cleveland shot 36% in the second quarter after shooting 60.9% in the first.
Detroit capitalized on Cleveland’s poor shooting even further in the third quarter, using a 12-2 run to get the deficit all the way down to two, 62-60, with four minutes to play. However, 3-pointers from Neto and Dean Wade in the final 80 seconds of the period gave the Cavaliers an eight-point cushion entering the fourth quarter, which ended up being plenty as they were able to decisively end the game in the opening moments of the fourth.
Contact Omari Sankofa II at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.
Next up: Spurs
Matchup: Pistons (14-42) vs. San Antonio (14-41).
Tipoff: 7 p.m. Friday; Little Caesars Arena, Detroit.
TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit; WXYT-FM (97.1).