Cavaliers’ woes continue after loss to Pistons, Love injury
DETROIT — A loss to short-handed Detroit was hardly the biggest concern for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cleveland’s recent rough stretch went from bad to worse Tuesday night when Kevin Love exited with a broken left hand in a 125-114 loss to the Pistons. The Cavaliers said he had a non-displaced fracture in his fifth metacarpal and his status would be updated after additional examination Wednesday in Cleveland.
“It’s just unfortunate for our team,” James said. “Obviously with everything (that’s) been going on as of late with our ballclub, just trying to figure out how we’re going to play every night, different lineups, and getting everybody into the flow, we don’t need to have Kev go out like that. He’s going to be out for quite a while — maybe two months — so it’s just tough.”
The Cavs have lost 11 of 16, and the injury will likely affect the defending Eastern Conference champions’ plans as the Feb. 8 trading deadline approaches. They may have to make a significant move to replace Love.
“When it rains, it pours,” coach Tyronn Lue said.
Andre Drummond had 21 points and 22 rebounds for the Pistons, who snapped an eight-game losing streak despite a lineup that was depleted by their blockbuster trade for Blake Griffin. Detroit dealt three players to the Los Angeles Clippers to get Griffin, and neither he nor the other two players the Pistons received in return were available against Cleveland. Drummond — whose own status was in question because of an illness — had a huge game, and Stanley Johnson added a career-high 26 points.
Reggie Bullock added 22 points for the Pistons, and Anthony Tolliver scored 20.
“I needed that, and everyone in the room needed that,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. “When you’ve lost eight in a row, all you care about is getting to the end of a game with more points than the other team. It doesn’t matter how.”
James scored 21 points for the Cavs, but Cleveland was listless early and outplayed late — and the result felt secondary to Love’s health.
Love played only 4:41 and went scoreless.
The Pistons had to give up Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley — two starters — to acquire Griffin, so players like Johnson, Bullock and Luke Kennard will have a chance to play bigger roles. Bullock scored 16 points in the first half Tuesday, and Johnson was impressive throughout, pushing the ball up the court and attacking the rim.
“I told (Johnson) after the game that I think that’s the best game I’ve ever seen him play,” Van Gundy said. “He was aggressive on both ends, and while no one stops LeBron, he did a very good job against him.”
Wade scored 18 points after missing two games because of the death of his longtime agent Henry Thomas. Wade (21,800) moved past Larry Bird (21,791) for 32nd place on the NBA’s career scoring list.
Drummond was added to the NBA All-Star Game on Tuesday, replacing injured Washington guard John Wall. After he was initially left out of the All-Star Game, Drummond apparently felt snubbed, posting last week to his Twitter account: “Guess I gotta start doing back flips after every point I score to get attention around here!”
The Pistons are hopeful Griffin and Drummond will develop good chemistry together, the way Griffin did with DeAndre Jordan while with the Clippers.
“Maybe, but I’ve got a lot more to my offensive game than DeAndre, so we’re going to be able to do a lot of things beyond lobs,” Drummond said.
Cavaliers: Isaiah Thomas scored 19 points and Kyle Korver added 10.
Pistons: Detroit had 44 points in the paint in the first half and 68 for the game. … Johnson’s previous career high was 22 points against New York on Feb. 4, 2016.
Cavaliers: Host the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
Pistons: Host the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night in what could be Griffin’s debut with Detroit.