Pistons at Cavaliers Game Preview - Feb. 21, 2012
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The Detroit Pistons' improved defensive effort continues to pay off.
Detroit goes for its fourth straight victory overall and first three-game road winning streak in more than three years Tuesday night when it visits the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Pistons are in last place in the Central Division but have won seven of nine and three straight, including two victories over Boston last week.
Detroit (11-22) is coming off a 96-81 win over the Celtics on Sunday. The Pistons shot 37.8 percent, but scored 40 points off 24 Boston turnovers.
"I was happy with our guys," coach Lawrence Frank said. "Their intensity, the ability through defense (being) able to create offensive opportunities, the deflections to active hands."
Prior to its recent run Detroit had lost seven straight while giving up an average of 102.4 points. In the last nine games, however, it has allowed 91.7 points per game.
A big effort on the glass has been key as the Pistons have held a 5.4-rebound-per-game edge in that span. Jason Maxiell, whose move into the starting lineup coincides with the turnaround, had six points and 10 boards Sunday.
"I think we've found our effort, focus and intensity," said Greg Monroe, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. "Everyone on this team understands their role now, and we're all working."
Detroit also got another solid effort from Rodney Stuckey, who held Ray Allen to two first-half points. Stuckey shot just 2 of 10, but still averaged 25.0 points in four games last week.
While the Pistons are playing at their highest level of the season, Cleveland (12-17) is looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 1 and 3.
The Cavaliers are coming off a 93-92 victory over Sacramento on Sunday. The Kings' DeMarcus Cousins scored with 2.9 seconds remaining, but Kyrie Irving was fouled with 0.4 seconds left and hit two free throws to cap a 23-point game.
"Even if they didn't call a foul, I saw the lane open up a little bit and I was going to go for a layup," Irving said. "(Tyreke Evans) fouled me. It was a unique situation."
Cleveland shot 36.0 percent - its second straight game below 40 - but held Sacramento to 37.6 percent.
The Cavaliers have gotten consecutive good performances from rookie Tristan Thompson, who recorded his first double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds Sunday. He also had three blocks.
Thompson, who had 12 points and six boards against Miami two nights earlier, missed four games earlier this month with an ankle injury.
"I thought he played pretty good (against Miami) and I thought he started to get his confidence back," coach Byron Scott said. "I think the ankle is starting to get to a point where it's not a problem."
Cleveland beat Detroit 105-89 on Dec. 28 at the Palace, shooting a season-high 57.1 percent and putting six players in double figures. The Cavaliers have won three straight and 10 of 12 between the two.
The Pistons, who have won consecutive road games following a 1-12 start, haven't won three straight away from Auburn Hills since Jan. 19-Feb. 7, 2009.