Crash Landing

Pistons endure dreadful start in 22-point loss at Cleveland


The story of the game in Pistons red, white and blue

WHITE HOT – Cleveland built a 32-point halftime lead and coasted to a 122-100 win over the Pistons, who saw their two-game winning streak shattered with a combination of leaky defense and sloppy offense. Cleveland shot 58 percent in the first quarter and 69.5 percent in the second quarter in scorching the Pistons. The Cavaliers set a franchise record with 26 first-half assists on 30 baskets. Andre Drummond recorded his 54th double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Pistons, who shot under 30 percent for much of the first three quarters before finishing at 35 percent. Jonas Jerebko had a big fourth quarter to finish with 17 points. Dion Waiters led seven Cavs in double figures with 22 points.

BLUE COLLAR – Cleveland’s bench won its matchup with Detroit’s convincingly. The Pistons had been getting strong contributions of late from Peyton Siva, Jonas Jerebko and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but through three quarters – before both benches emptied – the Cavs got 37 points and 16 rebounds from its four-man bench of Jarrett Jack, Anderson Varejao, Tyler Zeller and Matthew Dellevadova while John Loyer’s bench provided six points and four rebounds. Dellevadova racked up 14 points and 12 assists and Varejao 11 points and 12 rebounds. Zeller added 18 points.

RED FLAG – The Pistons couldn’t have gotten off to a more ominous start offensively with several early turnovers setting the tone. They shot 26 percent in the first quarter but might have been able to stay close because they outshot Cleveland from the foul line 11-0. But their eight turnovers – against only three assists – underscored the offensive dysfunction. Cleveland, meanwhile, recorded 14 assists on 14 first-quarter baskets. The Cavs finished with 41 assists and shot 57 percent.

CLEVELAND – The good news is the Pistons took a big step toward hanging on to their first-round draft pick Wednesday night in Cleveland. The bad news? Well, sit down. This might take a while.

The Pistons trailed by 32 at halftime, which required an amazing confluence of dazzling plays by Cleveland and not-so-dazzling sequences from the Pistons. The highlights for the Cavs, who did their best to fend off their inevitable playoff elimination by sucking the suspense from this one very early, included a 26-7 edge in first-half assists – a franchise record for assists in a half – when they shot 64 percent.

The lowlights for the Pistons included committing eight first-quarter turnovers and flirting with the Mendoza Line – 20 percent shooting – until a flurry late in the second quarter lifted them up to 28 percent by the half. They finished at 35 percent while Cleveland finished at 57 percent, staying above 60 percent until late in the fourth quarter. For most of the game, there was a 30 percentage points or more difference in the two teams’ shooting numbers.

“We were embarrassed in the first half,” John Loyer said. “This is an unforgiving league. They didn’t care that we went and beat Atlanta last night. They were sitting here wanting to get a win as bad as anybody. This league doesn’t care. We really didn’t compete in the first two quarters even the way we have in some of our worst games. The better team won tonight. They outworked us.”

"The better team won tonight. They outworked us."

-John Loyer on the Cavaliers
Full game quotes

The loss snapped the first two-game win streak of Loyer’s 29-game tenure, including a 19-point comeback to beat Boston and Tuesday’s win over the East’s likely No. 8 playoff seed, Atlanta, on the road.

“Today was tough,” said Peyton Siva, playing as backup point guard for the fourth straight game with Will Bynum remaining sidelined by a foot injury. “You see how the NBA is. One night you can feel on top of the world; next night you can feel at the bottom. You’ve just got to continue to play hard and continue to roll.”

Siva wasn’t the only young player to get some playing time in this one. Gigi Datome scored nine fourth-quarter points and Tony Mitchell grabbed six rebounds and blocked a shot over the game’s last eight minutes. Brandon Jennings, who recovered from a 0 of 10 shooting start to make 5 of 7 and match Jonas Jerebko’s team-high 17 points, said those players should benefit from the season’s final three games.

“At this point, it’s important that we play the young guys,” he said. “Let the young guys get some time, let them see what it is to play 35 minutes a night in the NBA. I know everybody says Summer League, but Summer League is nothing like the NBA.”

It wasn’t all good news for Cleveland, either. Atlanta’s win over Boston eliminated the Cavs from the playoffs, as the Pistons had been three nights earlier by another Hawks win.

As for that draft pick, the Pistons keep it if they wind up with a top-eight pick in the June 26 draft. They won’t know where they’ll land until the lottery is drawn on May 20. But if they go into that night sitting in the No. 8 spot, they’ll have an 82 percent chance of keeping it – meaning there’ll be about an 18 percent chance that a team behind them pulls a top-three pick and pushes them down a spot.

With 50 losses, only Cleveland – which has 47 losses with three games to play – can possibly catch the Pistons, requiring Detroit to win all three of its remaining games and the Cavs to lose all three on their schedule. That would push Detroit’s chances to keep the pick to slightly less than 50-50.

It’s still possible, on the other end, that the Pistons could lose as many or more games than Sacramento or the Los Angeles Lakers, both of which entered Wednesday’s games with 51 losses apiece. If the Pistons were to enter the lottery in the No. 7 spot, they would have a 98 percent chance of retaining their pick, one they owe to Charlotte eventually.