Cleveland − It was the eve of the NBA trade deadline and the Pistons were in Cleveland to face the Cavaliers for the third time this season.
Every Pistons player outside of Cade Cunningham and Marvin Bagley was available for Wednesday’s game, even the team’s two-way players.
After the first quarter, it appeared as if Detroit was headed towards another blowout loss but an exerted effort allowed Detroit to come within four points after trailing by as many as 18 in the first half. Cleveland allowed Detroit to hang around until the fourth quarter when they ripped off nine straight points to stretch its lead back to 17, ending any hopes of a comeback.
The Pistons were outscored 37-17 in the fourth quarter, leading to a 113-85 loss, their third defeat at the hands of the Cavaliers this season. Detroit drops to 14-42, while Cleveland improves to 35-22.
Cavaliers big man Jarrett Allen paced his team with a double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore sensation Evan Mobley used his length and offensive versatility to tally 19 points and eight boards.
Bojan Bogdanovic, who many teams are trying to pry away from Detroit, finished with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists. Rookie center Jalen Duren added 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
The Pistons will head into Thursday’s trade deadline with a decision on whether to stand pat and hold on to their veterans, or use their value to exchange for future draft capital.
Here are a few observations from Wednesday’s loss to the Cavaliers:
New rotations: Pistons coach Dwane Casey had 15 players active for Wednesday’s game due to the availability of two-way guards Buddy Boeheim so he opted to switch up his rotations early in the game. Killian Hayes returned to the starting lineup after spending the last six games with the second unit. He finished with four points and two assists. Eleven players, including veterans Nerlens Noel and Cory Joseph, received action in the first half. Joseph’s defensive intensity helped the Pistons climb out of an 18-point hole to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 11 by the half.
Duren’s offensive versatility: Duren has been known as player that’s still figuring it out on offense. Other than his explosive dunks, which he continued on Wednesday, the 19-year-old rookie has been yearning to show he’s capable of more. He mixed things up a bit early in the third quarter when he caught the ball and spun away from Jarrett Allen for a fadeaway eight-footer. Duren also made both of his shots from the free-throw line. It’ll be interesting to see how Duren’s offensive game expands going forward but if the glimpses of short fadeaways are any indication, he’ll be looking to shoot more perimeter shots as his career progresses.
No Garland, Mitchell. No problem: The Cavaliers played the Pistons for the second time this season without their starting backcourt of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell. Both were ruled out shortly before the game due to injuries. Similarly to how the Cavaliers defeated the Pistons by 24 points on Nov. 4, Wednesday’s loss came due to Detroit’s inability to contain Cleveland’s frontcourt of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. Two minutes into the game, Allen cut to the rim and threw down a vicious dunk in traffic. It was one of many dunks for the 6-foot-11 center, who also had offensive rebounds that led to second-chance for the Cavaliers. Mobley did most of his damage on the inside, showing why he’s poised to become one of the league’s next best big men. The tandem combined for 39 points and 22 rebounds.