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On Monday night, the Cavaliers spent most of four quarters climbing up a hill. They simply didn’t have enough left in the tank to get over the top.
Cleveland dug itself a 23-point hole in the first quarter, worked all the way back to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter, but couldn’t cap the rally in the closing moments, dropping the 109-105 decision on Monday night in Motown.
Playing without many of their regulars – including their leading scorer, Jerami Grant – the shorthanded Pistons still came out on a mission, with rookie Saddiq Bey canning all six of his three-pointers in that fateful first period.
The Cavs clawed their way back into contention in the second quarter and trailed by just nine at the break. In the third quarter, they kept climbing and got to within three near the end of the period. The fourth see-sawed back and forth – featuring the only ties and lead-changes of the ballgame – and Cleveland taking its first lead on Darius Garland’s three-pointer at the 6:19 mark.
The Pistons led by a deuce, 105-103, with just under 30 seconds to play when Josh Jackson grabbed his own free throw miss and scored on a layup to put Detroit up two possessions. Collin Sexton scored on a layup, but Jackson iced the affair with a pair of free throws.
Sexton led both teams with 28 points, going 12-for-20 from the floor, drilling his only three-pointer and going 3-of-3 from the stripe, adding seven boards, four assists, two blocks and a steal.
Garland followed up with 23 points on 9-for-19 shooting, adding six assists, a pair of steals and a block.
Kevin Love rounded out the Cavs starters with 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting, leading Cleveland with eight boards to go with four assists.
The Cavs again got solid contributions from Isaiah Hartenstein and Taurean Prince off the bench.
Hartenstein finished with 13 points in 19 minutes of work – going 5-of-8 from the floor, adding six boards, four assists, a team-high three blocks and a steal. Prince added 11 points along with two boards and a pair of steals.
All five Pistons starters notched double-figure scoring, Frank Jackson came off Detroit’s bench to net 20 points and and impressive rookie Isaiah Stewart doubled-up with 18 points and a game-high 16 boards, going 8-of-12 from the floor to go with three steals and three blocks.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Darrius Garland delivers a near-full court bounce pass right on the money to Collin Sexton who lays it up and in.
The Cavaliers made some strong pushes on Monday night, working their way through the second and third quarters and nearly closing the deal in the fourth.
But that would ignore the 37-point elephant in the room – Detroit’s huge opening quarter that set the table for everything that followed.
In that first period, the Pistons shot 56 percent from the floor, with Saddiq Bey going 6-of-7 from long-range and Isaiah Stewart dominating the paint with six points, seven boards and two blocks in the quarter.
By the Numbers - 29.7, 19.3 … Collin Sexton and Darius Garland’s season scoring average, respectively, in three games apiece against Detroit this season.
Sexton has shot 65 percent from the floor and was 4-of-5 from beyond the arc against the Pistons. Garland averaged 7.3 assists in the series, including a career-high tying 12 in a win earlier this season.
"It’s frustrating, but it’s disappointing more so than anything. I love the dudes in that locker room. I think their hearts and minds are in the right place. But we’ve got to grow up, and it’s that simple."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
The Wine & Gold return home – welcoming the Bulls to Cleveland on Wednesday night for a quick rematch after falling to Chicago this past Saturday.
Following that quick homecoming, the Cavs get right back on the road for a tough three-games-in-four-nights stretch – beginning with a Friday night visit to Charlotte. Cleveland then faces the Wizards for the first time this season on Saturday night in D.C. then closes out the mini-trip on Monday, taking on the Raptors in Tampa.