Pistons 'bounce back,' stuff Cavaliers with dramatic fourth-quarter comeback
Cleveland — In their first game without Blake Griffin, the Pistons played one of their most exhilarating games of the season.
They got good production from the normal source, but also got another big boost from rookie Sekou Doumbouya, who was making his fourth start.
Doumbouya had a dazzling dunk early in the game and Derrick Rose and Andre Drummond helped erase a 15-point deficit with a fourth-quarter comeback to help the Pistons take a 115-113 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
Doumbouya's highlight-reel dunk over Tristan Thompson in the first quarter will contend for one of the dunks of the year. He finished with 15 points and continued to show promise in filling the starting spot for Griffin, who had knee surgery Tuesday and will be out for an extended period.
Rose continued his All-Star candidacy with 24 points and seven assists, and Drummond added 23 points, 20 rebounds and five assists, helping the Pistons (14-24) win for the second time in the last three games. Tony Snell added 18 points and four rebounds, including four 3-pointers.
“Just happy to get the win, especially with the way that we played in the first half. We knew that we didn't want to end the trip like that,” Rose said. “From the last couple of games that we play, we're headed in the right direction as far as our urgency.”
Rose had the go-ahead jumper with 26.1 seconds left and Drummond split a pair of free throws in the final seconds to help secure the win.
“It’s a road win after a long, hard-fought road trip,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We closed it out and didn't play well in the first half, but we bounced back.”
The Cavs (10-27) lost their fifth straight but Kevin Love had 30 points, nine rebounds and four assists and Tristan Thompson eight points and 14 rebounds.
The Cavs led, 95-84, to start that fourth quarter and Rose hit a pair of free throws. The Cavs’ Brandon Knight (13 points) hit a 3-pointer but Doumbouya made a floater and Snell a 3-pointer to pull within seven. That started a 13-5 run, with a basket from Doumbouya and Rose, to close within 100-97.
The Pistons got within one on a Derrick Rose 3-pointer, but he was assessed a technical foul for taunting near the Cavaliers bench. After Love made the technical free throw, Drummond converted an alley-oop from Rose to tie it at 105 with 3:55 remaining.
The Cavs hit back-to-back 3-pointers from Osman (17 points) and Love and looked to be in control, but the Pistons had another response. Rose scored on a drive and Drummond made both free throws after a flagrant foul by Tristan Thompson.
Two possessions later, Snell hit a 3-pointer, for their first lead of the second half, 112-111.
Sexton (20 points) made two free throws but Rose had another answer, with a jumper from the elbow with 26.1 seconds remaining, for a 114-113 lead. The Pistons forced a turnover, initially called that Collin Sexton stepped out of bounds but after review, the call was overturned, and the Cavs got another chance.
The Pistons, though, forced a shot-clock violation with 2.1 seconds remaining and Drummond split the final two free throws for the final margin.
► Rose started the third quarter for third consecutive game as an additional scoring option. He answered the call again, with nine points in the quarter, including a 3-pointer and three drives to the basket. He played almost 10 minutes in the period, following the pattern of previous games, when he played about 10-12 minutes in the first half, started the third quarter and split time in the fourth, after a rest.
► Bruce Brown returned to the starting lineup after three games as a reserve, replacing Tim Frazier. With the Cavaliers’ young starting backcourt of Sexton and Garland, having a better defender to switch between the two looked to be the reasoning. Brown was also effective on the offensive end, with nine points.
► Mykhailiuk is finding a good grove offensively, getting going from 3-point range. He made four of his 10 attempts and created some opportunities for himself. As he’s gotten more comfortable in the starting lineup, he’s getting better looks on 3-pointers and making them. He’s among the league leaders in 3-point percentage at 43%.
► The Pistons shuffled the bench unit well and Rose played a season-high 31 minutes, going 9-of-21 from the field. They needed him for all of them, as they didn’t play Tim Frazier at all, splitting the minutes between Rose and Brown.