Cavaliers assert themselves in rout of Pistons
DETROIT — The NBA’s Central Division standings show the Detroit Pistons at the top. The Cleveland Cavaliers sent a message on Monday who really rules the division until further notice.
Kevin Love had 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, and the Cavaliers extended their winning streak to five games with a 116-88 romp over the Pistons.
The Cavs took the lead for good midway through the first quarter and turned the fourth quarter into extended garbage time.
LeBron James supplied 18 points and eight rebounds while playing just 27 minutes in the blowout for Cleveland (10-7).
“I just wanted to keep the pedal down,” James said. “We haven’t had a win like this in a very long time. We come out sometimes in the third quarter and have a slow start and teams get back into it. But today, we just kept it going. That’s a pretty big step for us.”
Jae Crowder contributed 18 points and Jose Calderon tossed in 14 for the Cavaliers, who led by as much as 39. Cleveland shot 52.5 percent (42 of 80) from the field and 48.5 percent (16 of 33) from long range.
“We just have been playing well of late,” James said. “We’re in a good groove right now, and we wanted to try to continue that coming in here today. They’ve been playing extremely good basketball, coming off a great win last night in Minnesota. We knew they were going to come out and try to give us their best shot, and we had to be ready for that. But we just had a lot of flurries. We had a lot of flurries and we didn’t stop.”
None of the Cavaliers played more than 28 minutes, a welcome development for one of the league’s oldest teams.
“It’s not a huge issue,” James said of his minutes. “But at the end of the day, when we can get a win like this, everybody benefits from it, not just me.”
Andre Drummond’s streak of grabbing 12 or more rebounds since the start of the season ended at 16 games. The Detroit center was held to eight points and eight rebounds while committing six turnovers.
Tobias Harris had 11 points, and Stanley Johnson and Reggie Jackson added 10 apiece for the Pistons (11-6). Detroit, which has lost three of its past four games, had its six-game home winning streak snapped.
“You just brush that one off your shoulder,” Johnson said. “It’s only one loss in the column. I thought we were playing pretty good before that.”
Cleveland fired in 11 of 17 3-point attempts in the first half and opened a 73-46 lead.
“For most teams in this league, there’s three, four, five of those games a year,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Tonight was one of them. We didn’t play well at either end, we made mistakes and they played terrifically.”
The Cavs finished the first quarter on a 19-5 run to gain a 36-23 lead. James, who had 16 points in the quarter, started it with two 3-pointers. Love scored eight points during that stretch.
Channing Frye scored eight points early in the second, helping the Cavs push the lead to 20 points.
J.R. Smith hit Cleveland’s last 3-pointer of the half during the final minute, and Crowder provided the 27-point lead with a pair of free throws.
The Pistons hadn’t given up more than 64 points in any half this season.
The lead grew to 30 early in the third on Calderon’s 3-point basket. The Cavs were on top 101-62 after three quarters.
“Over the last six or seven games, we’re starting to come together offensively and defensively, moving the basket, making the extra pass,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s what we’re capable of doing when we play the right way.”
NOTES: Detroit PF Jon Leuer (left ankle sprain) was inactive. The Cavs remain without PG Derrick Rose (left ankle sprain), SG Iman Shumpert (left knee soreness) and C Tristan Thompson (left calf strain). ... Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said Cavs G Dwyane Wade is quite comfortable at the point. “Dwyane, his rookie year, was a starting point guard in the league for us in Miami,” said Van Gundy, the former Heat coach. “It’s not like Dwyane’s not used to playing the point.” ... Detroit PG Reggie Jackson made the 400th 3-pointer of his career in the second quarter. ... Cavs SF Jae Crowder played in his 400th career game. ... The teams don’t play again until Jan. 28 in Cleveland.