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In the regular season, that one would have left a mark.
Instead, Friday’s preseason loss is just a valuable life-lesson for this young squad, which relinquished a 19-point second-half lead and fell to the Pistons, 109-105, at Little Caesar’s Arena.
The Wine & Gold took the lead midway through the first quarter and cruised through the second and third frames, keeping the Pistons at a double-digit disadvantage through most of the second stanza.
But the Pistons methodically chipped away at Cleveland’s lead, tying the contest at 102-apiece when Bruce Brown split a pair of free throws with 1:42 to play, capping an 11-2 run.
The Pistons took the lead on Svi Mykhailiuk’s put-back dunk with 1:08 to play and held the Cavaliers off the rest of the way – with Collin Sexton missing on a three-pointer that would have tied the game with 14 seconds remaining.
Sexton didn’t miss much from beyond the arc on Friday – going 3-of-5 from deep, 6-of-13 overall from the floor and 9-of-10 from the stripe for a game-high 24 points.
“We were sharing the ball, playing together, knocking open shots down – when it’s like that, it’s fun to be out there,” said Sexton. “We just have to continue to grow. We have film tomorrow – we need to watch and break down the things we did good tonight as well as some things that weren’t so good.”
Tristan Thompson was just as efficient, following up with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, adding eight boards in the loss.
Larry Nance Jr. led both squads in rebounding, snagging 11 boards in 28 minutes off the bench, adding a pair of assists and a steal. The Wine & Gold’s two other double-figure scorers – Brandon Knight and Jordan Clarkson – also did their work off Beilein’s bench.
Knight scored all 11 of his points before intermission, going 4-of-10 from the floor overall. Clarkson added 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, going 2-of-5 from three-point range to go with three assists in 21 minutes of work.
Six Pistons scored in double-digits in Friday’s win, including starters Andre Drummond, Bruce Brown and Reggie Jackson along with Derrick Rose notching 15 points apiece.
”We were guarding really well and we were playing at a pace we really liked,” said Coach Beilein. “And when we got into that fourth quarter, we started to drag a little bit and the ball started to stick.”
The Cavaliers travel to Boston for their next contest on Sunday afternoon before closing out the preseason against those same Celtics on Tuesday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.