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The Cavaliers have had some frustrating third quarters over the past month. On Monday night, they took out those frustrations on the Pistons.
Cleveland led the shorthanded Pistons by eight at intermission and blew things open in the third, getting their third win of the month and second straight in Motown – coasting to the 115-100 decision at Little Caesar’s Arena.
Like the rest of the Association, both squads were playing with heavy hearts, still reeling from the tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers. Both squads honored the future Hall of Famer – with Cleveland taking a 24-second shot clock violation and the Pistons accepting an eight-second backcourt ruling to begin the night.
The Pistons were without their leading scorer, Derrick Rose, who had tallied at least 20 points in each of his last 12 games. And they didn’t get much from All-Star center Andre Drummond – who posted two straight 20-point, 20-rebound games against Cleveland earlier this month.
For the Cavaliers, Collin Sexton led the way, scoring 16 of his game-high 23 points after intermission, going 10-of-19 on the night and leading the Wine & Gold with five assists.
Kevin Love did all his damage before half – going 7-of-11 from the floor overall, including 6-of-8 from long-range for 20 points, adding seven boards and a pair of assists in the win.
Tristan Thompson – who went off for a career-high 35 points in his last visit to Motown – got his mojo back after a pair of rough showings last week. On the night, Thompson doubled-up with 17 points and a game-high 11 boards, going 7-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the stripe.
Alfonzo McKinnie and Larry Nance Jr. each notched double-figures off the bench – with McKinnie chipping in with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting and Nance adding 10 points, five boards, three assists and a pair of blocks.
Rookie Kevin Porter Jr. returned from a nine-game absence to tally nine points, a game-high three steals and a blocked shot.
Reggie Jackson led the Pistons with 16 points while Andre Drummond – the league’s leading rebounder – finished with 15 points, eight boards and a pair of blocks in the loss.
Kevin Porter Jr. forcefully makes the steal and finishes off with a breakaway dunk.
The third quarter has been Cleveland’s undoing in far too many games this month, so Monday’s turnaround was a welcome change.
Detroit cut Cleveland’s eight-point halftime edge to just four on Svi Mykhailiuk’s three-pointer less than three minutes into the period. But that’s as good as it would get for Detroit. The Cavs answered with a 14-7 run and then used an 11-2 run minutes later – giving themselves enough breathing room to coast home in the fourth.
In that third period, the Cavaliers shot 64 percent, nearly doubled them on the boards, handed out nine assists and didn’t commit a single turnover.
22.6, .475, .469, .913 … Collin Sexton’s scoring average – along with his shooting percentage from the floor, beyond the arc (30-of-64) and from the stripe (42-of-46) in the month of January.
With just one game remaining this month, Sexton has scored at least 16 points in all 14 – with eight 20-point outings and a 30-point effort against the Thunder on January 4. The Young Bull is also averaging 4.0 assists per over his last four games.
Kevin Love, on Monday night’s win in the Motor City …
"Obviously, the last few games at home we haven't really played truly inspired basketball since we got back from the road trip. So, tonight both teams played with heavy hearts, we came out and played inspired basketball. (We) moved the ball, got to our spots; defensively we were locked in and on the same page, so it felt good, especially to win in this fashion. It's been a while since we've been able to get everybody to get in there and play some minutes."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and 87.7 La Mega's Rafa Hernandez-Brito.
The Wine & Gold get right back after it on Tuesday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse – hosting the Cleveland debut of Zion Williamson and Pelicans.
The Cavaliers host the World Champs on Thursday night when Pascal Siakam and the Raptors visit to wrap up the month of January, followed by a visit from the reigning Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors on Saturday.
The Cavaliers play just one more road game – at Oklahoma City on February 5 – before the All-Star Break.