Too many turnovers: Pistons give it up 22 times as Cleveland gradually pulls away
David Liam Kyle (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Wednesday night’s 122-107 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
TOO MANY TURNOVERS – The Pistons went into their game at Cleveland fully aware of the fact the Cavaliers lead the NBA in turnovers forced at 17.5 per game. Dwane Casey reminded them of it, surely, before they committed 12 first-half turnovers – yet still led, 56-54, largely because Cleveland matched them in wasted possessions. Casey reminded his team, no doubt, of the need to take better care of the basketball at halftime. And then the Pistons committed three turnovers in their first four possessions of the third quarter, giving Casey another chance to remind them of it when he called timeout 91 seconds into the half. The 10-2 Cleveland run to open the second half gave the Cavs a lead the Pistons would never overcome. They finished with 22 turnovers that Cleveland converted into 30 points. An 11-4 Cleveland run to start the fourth quarter took an eight-point lead to 15 in the first four minutes. The Cavaliers eventually led by 19 before an 8-0 Pistons run cut it back to 11 with five minutes left. The comeback died when Cleveland responded with a 7-0 run. Jerami Grant, who led the Pistons with 26 points, set a franchise record with his 17th straight game with at least two made triples, snapping a tie with Jerry Stackhouse set during the 2001-02 season. Derrick Rose returned from a two-game absence to score 13 points off the bench. It was just the second time this season the Pistons lost by more than 10 points.
WAYNE’S WORLD – The Pistons have taken to running a play for Wayne Ellington on their first possession and that’s not something that would go unnoticed by opponents in scouting reports. But such is the roll that Ellington is on, it doesn’t much matter. Ellington scored four points on the first possession – hitting a technical free throw when Cleveland was whistled for defensive three seconds – that included a wing triple launched in a flash before the defense could react to him. He finished with 17 points, giving Ellington six straight games of scoring 15 or more points, the longest of his 12-year career. Ellington has now made at least three triples in seven straight games, a personal best. And he’s made at least four straight in the past five games, which set a franchise record he shared with Joe Dumars, who did it in four straight games in 1999. Ellington came into the game with more 3-pointers made over a five-game span, 27, than any player in Pistons history, three ahead of Chucky Atkins’ 24 from the 2001-02 season. Ellington also came in tied with Joe Dumars for the best 3-point percentage for a single month at 54.3 percent in January, tied with Joe Dumars’ November 1993 performance. He came into the game third in the NBA in 3-point percentage for the season at 51.9 percent.
GETTING BUSY – Wednesday’s game was the start of a stretch of five games over seven nights – with a cross-country trip thrown into the middle of it. The Pistons host the Lakers on Thursday, then start a five-game road trip at Golden State on Saturday. It includes two back to backs, the first a Monday-Tuesday set at Denver and Utah. Dwane Casey says the Pistons have a plan in mind for how to use players over that time to keep them fresh. Blake Griffin hasn’t played both ends of a back to back yet this season and Derrick Rose returned from a two-game absence with left knee soreness at Cleveland so it’s possible he’ll be used judiciously, as well. With Rose back, the Pistons deactivated Saben Lee. Lee served as backup point guard to Delon Wright in the two games Rose missed against Philadelphia, playing 12 minutes in each game. But Lee, the No. 38 overall pick in the November draft, is playing on a two-way contract, which limits him to being on the active list for 50 games. Casey said the Pistons are mindful of that limitation and didn’t want to get caught short later in the season if Lee is needed.