The Cleveland Cavaliers played their most complete game since Tyronn Lue took control of the team – and perhaps all season – as they rolled to a 114-104 victory over their Central Division rivals Detroit Pistons on Jan. 30.
The Cavaliers (33-12) played three fantastic quarters of basketball before sleep walking through the final 12 minutes of action. Cleveland started the game out with high energy and lots of pace. The Cavs made 5-of-their-first-7 shots and led by as many as eight points before settling for a 33-27 lead at the end of the quarter.
Cleveland shot 54.2 percent from the floor (13-of-24) and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, marking the fifth consecutive quarter the team has made at least half of their shots. The 33-points were two shy of the Cavaliers season-high total for an opening frame.
After the first quarter, Cleveland cooled down a bit but still put 30 points on the scoreboard in the next two frames as the Cavs built their lead to as many as 20 late in the third. Cleveland shot 47 percent from the floor (39-of-83) and connected on 39.1 percent of their shots from beyond the arc (9-of-23).
Kevin Love led the way with 29 points for the Cavs, who have won three in a row. Kyrie Irving added 28 points and LeBron James contributed 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Tristan Thompson posted his 12th double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 caroms.
Detroit fell to 25-22 on the season. Andre Drummond led six Pistons in double-figures with 20 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Stanley Johnson Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilysova were the others in double figures.
With the Cavs victory, the series is tied at 1-1 this season. Cleveland has now won 7-of-9 and five-of-six at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Cleveland hosts the San Antonio Spurs (39-7) tonight while Detroit travels to Toronto (31-15).
The Cavs Big Three
For the first time all year – and ninth time since being united – Irving, James and Love scored 20 points in a game.
Irving was aggressive on the offensive and got into the paint at will. He shot 11-of-19 from the field and was 6-of-7 from the free throw line. The 28-points was his second highest total of the season and his free throw tied a season-best. In addition, Irving turned the ball over just once in 32 minutes of action though he only had two assists.
Love shot the ball well for the second straight game, making 9-of-19 attempts as he knocked down 5-of-7 three-point attempts. His 29 points in the most since late November, which was also the last time he had back-to-back 20-point efforts. Love scored 21 points on Wednesday night.
James needed 17 points to become the youngest player in history to reach 26,00 points and he surpassed that milestone in the third quarter. James also moved into the top 20 all-time in assists, passing Derek Harper.
James finished a plus-19, Love was a plus-16 and Irving recorded a plus-14.
The Cavs outrebounded the Pistons 47-39 but more importantly they kept Drummond off the offensive glass. Drummond, who came into the game averaging 5.3 offensive caroms a game, only collected one on that end and eight total. Detroit finished with nine offensive rebounds and 11 second chance points, which was well below their totals of 13 offensive rebounds and 16 second chance points.
Thompson had 11 defensive rebounds to lead the Cavs while James had eight and Love collected six on that end.
Cleveland got 17 second chance points on nine opportunities.
Free Throw shooting
The Cavs sank 27-of-29 from the charity stripe. Thompson was perfect from the free throw line (5-for-5) as was Love (6-of-6). James and Irving missed one free throw attempt.
One of the keys to the game for the Cavs was to protect the ball, which is exactly what Cleveland did. The Cavs had just four turnovers through the first three quarters but then turned the ball over four times in the fourth quarter.