Pistons stumble in second half, fall to Cavaliers despite 40 points from Grant
The Pistons had another stellar individual performance on the heels of Saddiq Bey’s 51-point game on Thursday night.
Jerami Grant took center stage this time, with a season-high 40 points in a standout showing on Saturday night.
It wasn’t enough to lift the Pistons, who struggled for a stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters, in a 113-109 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
“I definitely was feeling it, but at the end of the day, we've got to get the win,” said Grant, who had 27 points in the first half. “It really doesn't mean anything unless we win.”
Grant finished 13-of-22 (59%) from the field and 7-of-9 on 3-pointers, along with making all seven of his free throws. Bey added 20 points and six rebounds and Cade Cunningham 15 points, six rebounds and 10 assists for the Pistons (19-52).
In the third quarter, the Pistons had their biggest lead of the game, 80-68, after an alley-oop from Cunningham to Marvin Bagley III at the 3:20 mark. The Cavs (41-30) stormed back with a basket by Caris LeVert and an onslaught from Kevin Love (14 points and 10 rebounds), who made three 3-pointers in that final stretch before the fourth quarter.
Love’s third 3-pointer put the Cavs ahead, 82-81, entering the final period, and he was fouled on a 3-pointer on the first possession of the fourth quarter and made just one free throw. Darius Garland (24 points and 12 assists) followed with a 3-pointer and Cleveland was ahead to stay.
“We didn't score for a six-minute stretch there and then we lost Kevin Love in transition a couple of times,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “He got kick-outs and he had three 3-pointers in that stretch, and that kind of opened it up.”
During that span with the second unit in, the Cavs’ run was 24-4, with 10 points by Love and six by Cedi Osman (16 points and five rebounds). Rookie Evan Mobley scored on a dunk for a 92-84 lead with 9:25 left. Mobley finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two blocks, bolstering his push for NBA Rookie of the Year.
Kelly Olynyk ended the run with a 3-pointer and Grant added a floater to get within three, but Osman scored on a drive and followed with a 3-pointer. After a lay-in by Lauri Markkanen, the Cavs pushed ahead, 99-89 with 6:02 remaining.
Grant scored on a drive and made two free throws, starting an 8-2 run that brought the Pistons within 101-97 with 3:59 left. Bey made the Pistons' next three baskets, including a 3-pointer, but the Cavs put the game away with a hook by Mobley and a 3-pointer by Markkanen.
Casey said that the Pistons are continuing to evaluate their young players, while also trying not to extend the minutes of their top players like Bey and Grant.
Still, getting a solid offensive night is a plus.
“I was really happy for Jerami to shoot the ball the way he did. He was 7-for-9 from 3, which is big time, and that’s what we’ve got to have,” Casey said. “We’ve got to have not a 40-point night, but that type of 3-point threat that’s going to open up everything.”