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Wrap-Up -- The Cavaliers youngsters have come a long way.
With veterans Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Larry Nance Jr. and Matthew Dellavedova on the shelf, the Wine & Gold’s youth movement led the way – with Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman canning huge baskets down the stretch as Cleveland dropped another Eastern Conference contender at home, taking the 126-119 decision over Detroit on Monday night at The Q.
The Pistons demolished Cleveland in their previous visit back on March 3 – running out to a huge early lead and dumping the Cavs by 36 points. But it was a different story from the opening tip in their return.
Monday’s rematch was nip-and-tuck the entire way. The Pistons took an 11-point lead in the second quarter, but Cleveland erased that deficit before half. In the second stanza, there were eight ties and 11 lead-changes, with neither squad leading by more than five points before the Wine & gold pulled away in the final minute.
In those closing moments, the Pistons led by a deuce, 114-112, with 3:04 to play before Sexton canned his fourth triple of the night to give Cleveland the lead. On the Cavs’ next possession following a Wayne Ellington miss, Osman canned a three to put Cleveland up two possessions.
Reggie Jackson missed a three-point attempt on the other end and the Young Bull put an exclamation point on the affair – drilling his fifth three-pointer to essentially seal the deal and avoid the season sweep.
On the evening, Sexton continued his late-season push – topping the 20-point mark for the sixth straight game with a game-high 27-point effort, going 10-for-16 from the floor, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, adding two boards and a pair of steals.
Cedi followed up a strong shooting performance in Dallas with another strong showing on Monday – finishing with 21 points on 7-for-14 shooting and a perfect 5-of-5 from the stripe to go with four boards and a game-high six assists.
Nik Stauskas had easily his best game as a Cavalier – notching 17 points in 24 minutes off the bench, going 5-of-7 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from long-range in the victory.
Seven Cavs score in double-digits in Monday's win over Detroit.
Brandon Knight, as he usually does, did most of his best work early – netting 14 of his 16 points before intermission, adding four boards, five assists and a steal.
Jordan Clarkson – who got some much-needed help from his fellow reserves – added 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while Marquese Chriss doubled-up for the first time as a Cavalier, finishing with 10 points, 10 boards and a pair of blocks.
David Nwaba, pressed into the starting lineup with Kevin Love getting the night off with a lower back contusion, was the seventh Cavalier in double-figures – chipping in with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, adding six boards, four assists, a steal and blocked shot.
For Detroit, Andre Drummond posted his second 20-point, 20-rebound game against Cleveland this season – tallying 21 points and 21 boards, nine of those off the offensive glass. Former Cavalier Wayne Ellington led the Pistons – finishing with 25 points, going 7-for-13 from three-point range in the loss.
Turning Point -- After reaching the Finals over the past four years, the Wine & Gold have been looking for a new closer among their young guns. But on Monday night, two players stepped up to take the honors – with Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman leading the Wine & Gold’s final flurry.
The fourth quarter alone featured six ties and five lead-changes, with the final push coming compliment of the young duo.
The Pistons took a two-point edge when Reggie Jackson split a pair of free throws with just over three minutes to play. But that’s as good as it would get for Detroit – with Sexton hitting a pair of threes and Cedi chipping in with a bomb at the 1:23 mark and a pair of free throws with 15 seconds to play.
Cleveland’s eight-point led with 33 seconds to play was its biggest lead of the game.
By the Numbers – 26.5 .567, .564, .905 … Collin Sexton’s scoring average – plus his shooting percentage, three-point percentage and free throw percentage – over his last six games, topping the 23-point mark in six straight contests to become the first rookie since Tim Duncan in 1998 to do so. His six-game run of at least 20 points is the longest such streak by a rookie this season.
Quotable – Cedi Osman, on his teammates’ effort in Monday night’s win …
"Offensively, Collin had a great night, David, Nik – just as a team, we had a really good night. We made some tough shots and some clutch shots and we're excited that we won the game. We’re happy."
Up Next -- With now under a dozen games remaining in the campaign, the Wine & Gold’s homestand rolls on this week – with the Greek Freak and his Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks rolling in on Wednesday night followed by a visit from the Clippers on Friday. The Cavaliers get back on the road this weekend, traveling to Milwaukee for a quick rematch with the Bucks on Sunday afternoon. Cleveland comes home for a meeting with the Celtics next Tuesday before embarking on a five-game West Coast roadie – their final trip of the season.