Final Dime: Cavaliers 110, Pistons 101
Daniel Gibson finished with 17 points in Monday night's win in Motown.
In terms of the basketball game itself, the Cavaliers used a 12-1 third-quarter run – ignited by a rare five-point play Daniel Gibson – to pull past a disjointed Detroit team, 110-101, in the Pistons’ season home finale at the Palace.
The Cavaliers won that war, but the battle that took place midway through the fourth is what will garner most of the headlines.
With 5:47 remaining in the fourth quarter, Hollins tried fighting through a Villanueva screen. The two tangled, and in seconds, things had escalated into a heated shoving match between the two bigs. Both players were ejected, but Villanueva struggled with Pistons security personnel to get back across the court at Hollins – who did little more than smile tauntingly at the Pistons forward.
According to reports, Villanueva wasn’t done, twice attempting (unsuccessfully) to get from the Pistons locker room to the Cavaliers.
“You just don’t want it to escalate like that,” said Gibson. “There were a lot of expletives exchanged that I don’t think I can repeat, but that stuff happens when your competitive nature kicks in. You just hope it doesn’t go as far as it did.”
While Villanueva was fuming in the corridors of the Palace, the Wine and Gold were busy pulling past the Pistons – snuffing a Detroit rally that saw John Kuester’s club cut a 15-point Cavaliers lead to just six with just under four minutes to play. They would get no closer.
“We kept our composure and like I said, I thought we were on our heels a little bit in the fourth quarter but we made enough plays in the end, in the last two or three minutes to get the victory,” said Coach Scott. “But I thought we won the game on the defensive end.”
The Wine and Gold started out sluggishly on Monday, falling behind, 33-23, after one quarter in the Motor City. But the Cavaliers turned things around quickly, using a 12-0 run to start the second quarter to draw even with Detroit, which led by just one headed into the locker room.
Early in the second half, Gibson canned a long three-pointer in front of the Pistons bench and was fouled by Detroit’s Rip Hamilton. Unhappy with the call, Hamilton argued and was whistled for a technical. Gibson sank the tax and the tech – completing a five-point play and propelling the Cavaliers to their second straight win over the Pistons.
J.J. Hickson led six Cavaliers in double-figures with 20 points to go with 11 boards. Hickson, who proudly played peacekeeper during the fourth-quarter fracas, finished 8-of-16 from the floor with a pair of assists and a steal in the victory.
“We’re just trying to get a couple of wins in row here to finish out the season,” said Hickson. “We’re hoping to build some momentum going into next season. We have a young core group on this team and it is going to be fun playing with them next season.”
Ramon Sessions and Gibson each added 17 points off Byron Scott’s bench, with Sessions leading the Cavaliers with a team-high nine assists.
Christian Eyenga played well in the fourth and was on the floor in crunch time, adding 13 points and three boards. Hollins, aside from the fourth-quarter rhubarb, finished 5-of-5 from the floor and 2-of-3 from the stripe for 12 points, five boards and pair of blocked shots.
Rounding out the Cavaliers in double-figures was Alonzo Gee, who improves by the game – adding 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
The Cavaliers concluded their road schedule with a win in Detroit and look to do the same in their home finale when they welcome the Wizards to The Q for Fan Appreciation Night on Wednesday.
2. In four games against Detroit – including a 16-minute, seven-point effort in the Cavs first meeting – J.J. Hickson averaged 14.0 points and 11.0 boards per contest against the Pistons.
3. Semih Erden got his first start as a Cavalier – and eighth of his career – on Monday night in Motown. In just under 19 minutes of action, the seven-footer from Turkey went 1-for-5 from the floor for five points.
4. With Anthony Parker out with back spasms, Manny Harris got the hometown start against Detroit. The former Wolverine, whose previous start was on February 4 in Memphis, had about 20 family and friends at the Palace. Harris fared slightly better than Erden – also going 1-for-5 from the floor for four points, adding four boards and three assists.
5. With Erden and Harris starting together on Monday, Byron Scott has used 24 different starting lineup combinations – third-most in the NBA this season. The only player on the current roster who hasn’t started a game this season is Luke Harangody.
6. Ramon Sessions struggled as a starter when Baron Davis first arrived, but he’s finding his rhythm as a sub, averaging 16.5 per game in nine contests since coming off the bench – the third-best bench scoring mark in the NBA in bench scoring during that stretch.
7. The Cavaliers closed out their road schedule with Monday night’s win in Detroit, finishing (7-34) away from The Q this season. Monday’s matchup in the Motor City also wraps up the Cavaliers’ games against the Central Division, finishing up at 3-13 including the victory over Detroit.
8. Boobie Gibson still loves doing in the Pistons. On Monday night, the man who once knocked Detroit out of the Eastern Conference Finals went 4-for-7 from beyond the arc – all four makes from long-distance.
9. The Cavaliers have now scored 50 or more points in the first half of seven of their last nine games.
10. The Cavs came into Monday’s contest ranked 7th in the NBA in bench scoring at 35.3 ppg. Against the Pistons, Cleveland’s reserves notched 61 points compared to 27 for Detroit.
Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.