The Cleveland Cavaliers have played from behind and erased double-digit deficits in the past, but never one of this magnitude in Cleveland. On a night that will live in infamy, the Detroit Pistons came into the Q and jumped out to the biggest lead a road team has ever had against the Cavaliers at 21. But the Cavs never gave up, fighting and fighting from downhill to pull off a miraculous 99-92 victory. The game almost ruined a night in which the Quicken Loans Areana audience set a Guiness World Record for the most fleece blankets worn in one color in one room.
The entire stadium was wearing promotional Cavaliers' Snuggies handed out before the game, but the playful environment only seemed to embarrass the Cavs and provide extra fuel for the Pistons, who started the game off shooting a shocking 59% from the field. The Cavs, meanwhile, seemed to have trouble with every pass and every possession would almost end up in a deflection by a Piston. The Cavs were also out-muscled on the boards, unable to get any rebounds, and every rebound for the Pistons ending up in a wide open jump shot. The free throw line also started off terribly, with the Cavs missing their first 5. Detroit led by 9 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was even worse, with the Pistons hitting their first 5 shots and building the lead to 15. Within just 2 minutes, the Pistons already scored 11 points. Keep in mind that the Pistons are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA. They built a back-breaking 42-22 lead, with the Cavs reverting to the failed strategy of LeBron shooting jump shots with everyone standing around. Speaking of which, the Cavs missed their first 6 three pointers.
Midway through the second quarter, the Cavalier defense began to improve, and only allowed 10 points for the remainder of the quarter. No one was playing well offensively at all, except for LeBron, Antwan, Delonte, and Andy. Delonte and Andy helped keep us in the game and helped bring the Cavaliers back to within 9, putting the Cavs in much better shape than I hoped for.
In the third quarter, things didn't seem to improve as the Pistons were hot and the Cavs were cold to start off and fell behind by 15. But the Cavaliers came back to within 6, prompting a timeout with Varejao going to the line. At that moment, tragedy struck. During the timeout, Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey collapsed, reportedly from a seizure, and had to be carried off the court on a stretcher and rushed to the hospital. Our condolences go to him.
Afterwards, the Cavaliers came to life, cutting the deficit to 2 by the end of the third. In the fourth quarter, Antwan Jamison became a scoring machine, putting up 7 points and leading an 11-2 run that sent the Quicken Loans Arena crowd and the Cavaliers into nirvana. The emotionally deflated Pistons would never get closer than 4 from thereon out.
Detroit, thanks for letting me know our fierce rivalry isn't quite dead yet. I wish we didn't have to play you for the rest of the season.
Top Three Cavaliers Performances:
LeBron James: 16-27, 3-7 3PM-A, 40 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 42 minutes. Poor LeBron turned his ankle and was limping, but had no choice other than to stay in the game. He got the ball to several teammates inside, and his 3 point shooting was terrible for most of the game, but absolutely brilliant in the fourth quarter.
Anderson Varejao: 8-10, 16 points, 10 rebounds, 39 minutes. Varejao was the only Cavalier besides LeBron worth his salt hustling to loose balls. He didn't let the Pistons push him around in the first half and he got some layups inside when the Cavs' offense was sputtering.
Delonte West: 4-7, 12 points, 7 assists, 29 minutes. Our starting guards were terrible tonight. Mo Williams didn't play any defense and it took him and Anthony forever to get their first shots of the game. We also didn't get anything from our bench outside of Andy and Delonte. Of course, the other guys played a combined 15 minutes, and I guess I can understand why Mike Brown would be uncomfortable giving guys like Jamario and Leon a lot of minutes in a game like this. Really, LeBron, Andy, Delonte, and Antwan carried 98% of the workload between them in this game.
Now it's off to Milwakee, a playoff team. Hurry home Z. We're getting hammered inside without you!