Cleveland — For a change, the 3s led to two for the Pistons.
One after another, they connected from beyond the 3-point line, hitting at a clip above 50% for most of the game, in another convincing display.
After making at least 15 3-pointers in the previous two games, they went up a notch, with a season-high 18 makes from beyond the arc, in a convincing, 127-94 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
That led to the twos: their second straight win — the first time they’ve won back-to-back games this season — and their second victory on the road this season.
It’s just small steps in trying to turn around a disappointing start to the season, but after improving to 8-13, the Pistons are starting to see some daylight.
Blake Griffin had six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points and four rebounds, Andre Drummond added 17 points, 14 rebounds, five steals, four assists and four blocked shots and Svi Mykhailiuk had a career-high 15 points, including three 3-pointers.
“We know what we’re capable of and what we need to do each and every night to put together a complete game, like we have the past two games,” said Luke Kennard, who had eight points and four assists. “We played together and played hard from the jump. The starters and bench guys gave us good minutes and that’s where we need to be.”
After a 34-point win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, the Pistons are rolling, but the big test will come on a back-to-back, as they host the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
They took the time to enjoy just stringing together consecutive wins and playing some of their best basketball of the season, even if it came against two struggling teams.
“It’s still a marathon; we haven’t run the race yet,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We have to continue to keep that focus and keep the same get-better attitude that we have right now.”
The Pistons took control in the second quarter, with an 11-2 run midway through the period. Langston Galloway, who had four 3-pointers, scored and after a basket by the Cavs’ Jordan Clarkson (10 points), Galloway added a lay-in, Christian Wood got a basket and Derrick Rose (15 points, nine assists) and Drummond finished the spurt.
The Cavaliers (5-15) ended the run with a jumper by Collin Sexton (21 points) and finished the period with a pair of free throws from Tristan Thompson (10 points and 14 rebounds) to trim the lead to 62-46 at halftime.
Griffin’s back-to-back 3-pointers in the first quarter were part of a 19-4 run that gave the Pistons their first double-digit lead, at 24-13.
“It was good to see him (hit those). He didn’t have an exhibition season and he’s playing his way into the NBA season, which is very difficult,” Casey said.
The Cavs answered with a 15-0 spurt, highlighting the point about defense.
With a season high in 3-pointers, the Pistons remain one of the top teams in the league in 3-point-shooting percentage. After going 18-of-35 from beyond the arc, they can see many of the tenets of Casey’s offense coming together.
“It’s a process; I’ve been through it and I know the questions,” Casey said. “It’s what you emphasize and we emphasize 3-point shooting and ball movement but now it’s defense.”
The lead ballooned in the third quarter, after Kennard, who started 0-of-5 from the field, hit his first 3-pointer at the 8:49 mark and Griffin added his final 3-pointer of the game, followed by a three-point play from Drummond, pushing the lead to 80-52, at the 7:08 mark.
The next step for the Pistons will be solidifying their defense and putting together longer stretches of consistent play atboth ends of the court. They had just 12 turnovers, well below their season average of 17, but getting that number even lower is a priority, in trimming some of the turnovers that lead to easy baskets on the other end.