USA TODAY Sports
Pistons overpower Cavs as everyone chips in for an exciting first three quarters and a fourth quarter that makes you question your will to live.
The Detroit Pistons easily dispatched the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-99 Friday night behind a stellar game from young players Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe. New addition Jose Calderon couldn't play because of visa issues but the Pistons certainly didn't need him as Knight played one of the most point guardy games of his career.
It seemed like just about everyone on the Pistons was on track for a double-double as Detroit won every positional matchup on the floor save for power forward. The game wasn't even as close as the score indicated as the Pistons shot a dreadful 53 percent from the free-throw line.
The biggest surprise was Knight easily outclassing Cavs star point guard Kyrie Irving. I don't know if they peed in the same fountain or made a wish while holding the same talisman in the Amazon but it seemed like they switched bodies. Irving was an out of control chucker making bad decisions all game while Knight made smart, confident moves with the ball and set up his teammates excellently.
Knight finished with 20 points, 10 assists and six rebounds to just one turnover and was +29. Irving, meanwhile, shot just 4-of-10 and finished with 14 points, five assists and three turnovers and hardly played in the second half.
Nearly as impressive as Knight was Greg Monroe, who used Cleveland's lack of size and shot blocking to his advantage all night. Monroe nearly had a double-double in the first half and finished with a Drummond-esque 18 points and 16 rebounds and two blocks. Oh, also four pretty assists.
The only bright spot for Cleveland was a sneakily awesome game from Tristan Thompson who used his size and, I don't know, grace, to turn every possession for himself into an easy scoring opportunity. In the game thread I called him feathery and I think that is apt. He had 19 points on 9-of-11 from the field and had 9 rebounds. And he made everything look so easy.
As impressed as I was with Thompson, I was equally unimpressed by rookie Dion Waiters. He played horrible D, made horrible decisions and had a horrible shot.
I'm not sure if it was Cleveland's dreadful play or a reinvigoration brought on by the Tayshaun Prince trade but everybody was focused, playing hard and playing well. Kyle Singler was a fierce basket-cutter and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds and played excellent defense against Alonzo Gee (1-7 shooting) and whoever else the Cavs trotted out there.
Stuckey also had a nice game at shooting guard scoring 14 points on eight shots. And Will Bynum had his way with Cleveland's reserves, finishing with 11 points and eight assists. Surprisingly, considering the competition, Andre Drummond finished with a relatively pedestrian 9 points and five rebounds in 18 minutes.
He probably would have played longer but the Cavs went to hack-a-Drummond relatively early in the fourth quarter and Drummond obliged by hitting just 1-of-5 on the night. That forced Frank to sub Drummond out and the Cavs instantly went to the next best thing: hack-a-Charlie. And he then made only three and missed five. It was a truly excruciating fourth quarter to watch.
In the end nothing was enough an the scrubs were called into the game. Little-used Khris Middleton hit a smooth jumper an Ktrl-V showed everyone how it was done by hitting two free-throws late.