Game 47: Cavs at Pistons
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio
WHAT HAPPENED: Cavs guard Kyrie Irving dodged a bullet when newly acquired Pistons guard Jose Calderon missed Friday's game with visa problems. Brandon Knight, however, played, and played well.
He totally outplayed the Cavs' All-Star. Knight, the No. 8 pick in the 2011 draft, finished with 20 points, six rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and one block. He made 7 of 14 from the field, 2 of 4 from the 3-point line and 4 of 4 from the foul line.
Irving, the top selection in the 2011 draft, managed 14 points and four assists. It was his second subpar performance in a row.
Irving wasn't alone, however. His backcourt mate, Dion Waiters, was totally invisible in 22 minutes. In fact, backup point guard Shaun Livingston was much better with eight points and six assists before fouling out.
The Pistons actually shot better from the field (54.2 percent) than they did from the foul line (53.5 percent). They have some major bricklayers at the foul line with Andre Drummond, Charlie Villanueva and Greg Monroe.
That will have to be addressed.
Calderon came from the Raptors in the three-way trade with Memphis and the Pistons. Detroit traded forward Tayshaun Prince, who had spent his entire career with the Pistons.
The Pistons now have an overabundance of point guards in Calderon, Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum. They will pair Calderon and Knight in their starting backcourt.
I've never been able to figure out why the Raptors were so apt to deal Calderon. Every time I saw him play, he played well.
The Cavs have lost their last five games to the Pistons, including their last three at The Palace. They dropped to 0-3 vs. Detroit this season.
It's not so much a match-up thing. It's more of an effort thing. They play harder and with more fire than the Cavs. They've also got more overall talent, better big men and guards.
The Cavs played without forward Luke Walton (sore left ankle and foot/death in family) and guard Daniel Gibson (sprained right big toe). That wasn't the reason they got blown out.
Gibson's minutes are starting to get pinched. C.J. Miles has been shifted to small forward on the second unit, Wayne Ellington is the backup shooting guard and Livingston the point guard. Where does that leave Boobie?
On the bench. Don't be shocked if he's included in a deal at the deadline. He doesn't appear to be in the Cavs' future plans. The fact that he just can't stay healthy doesn't help his cause.
Drummond, one of the top rookie big men in the league, continues to impress. He had nine points, five rebounds and a block. He's clearly ahead of Cavs rookie center Tyler Zeller, who had two points and two rebounds in 17 minutes. If I was the coach, I'm not sure I would have played him 17 minutes. He was awful and allowed the Pistons to intimidate him.
Drummond is really coming on. He had 18 points and a career-high 18 rebounds vs. Milwaukee on Jan. 29.
If Zeller is going to play like that, perhaps Coach Byron Scott should give more minutes to Kevin Jones, who had four points and a career-high nine rebounds on Friday.
Power forward Tristan Thompson was very good with 19 points and nine rebounds. He's been a joy to watch over the last month.
Pistons forward Kyle Singler was the best Duke player on the court. He had a career-high 20 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals. He was outstanding. Cavs forward Alonzo Gee was almost helpless against him.
Gee is 1 of 12 from the field in his last two games. He needs to snap out of his funk in a hurry.
Luckily for the Cavs, they have a "breather" against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. They could play well in that game and still get blown out of the gym.
CARR'S MISSTEP: Fox Sports Ohio announcer Austin Carr might receive some flak for his comment about the Cavs having to "work like slaves." It was inappropriate.
VINCENT GOODWILL'S story in the Detroit News about how the Calderon trade affects their salary cap is today's link.
LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Golden State on Tuesday, 108-95.
UP NEXT: The Cavs host Oklahoma City at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Kyle Singler (6-8, 230)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Jason Maxiell (6-7, 260)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Greg Monroe (6-11, 250)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 221) vs. Rodney Stuckey (6-5, 205)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Brandon Knight (6-3, 185)
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao, G Josh Selby
Pistons - G Jose Calderon
Jason Phillips, David Guthrie, Marat Kogut