In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, a fan-written post went live at the great Sacramento Kings blog Sactown Royalty with a simple, matter-of-fact headline: "Cleveland knows how to tank." Given the stinkbomb the Cleveland Cavaliers unleashed against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night, recapped above thanks to our friends at the Yahoo! Sports Minute, it's not an unreasonable conclusion.
The Cavs found themselves on the receiving end of a 116-77 drubbing by the Detroit Pistons — the 23-38 Detroit Pistons — that was almost shockingly easy for the home team at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Detroit had an 11-point lead after the first quarter, a 23-point advantage at the half and, following a 39-12 third-quarter blitz, took a stunning 100-50 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Every member of Detroit's starting five had a plus-minus mark of at least +36 on the night; no Cavs starter fared better than Omri Casspi's -38. The only Piston who didn't score was Ben Wallace, which makes sense, because I'm pretty sure he hasn't scored since snap bracelets were a thing.
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank called it one of those "crazy nights" where "everything you shoot goes in [and] everything they shoot doesn't." That kind of undersells it — Detroit averages 101.4 points per 100 possessions on the season but scored at a 130-per-100 clip on Tuesday, while Cleveland (101.2-per-100 for the year) put up a way-sub-Bobcats number of 86.3-per-100 in the loss.
On one hand, this kind of thing can happen when a team is missing its two best players (the injured Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao) and two more rotation pieces (the injured Daniel Gibson and Alonzo Gee), is playing on the road against a better-than-you-think opponent (Detroit's 12-14 since the All-Star break, 16-14 at home on the season and 19-18 since its dreadful 4-20 start), and is one of the league's five worst squads anyway.
On the other ... yikes all around.
''Trust me, I'm trying to figure out what happened myself,'' Cavs forward Antawn Jamison (who missed all 10 of his field goal attempts, scoring just three points in nearly 29 minutes of work) told reporters after the game. ''I just know that I'm not going to be watching SportsCenter or reading any newspapers for the next couple days.''
With good reason. From Tom Reed at The Plain Dealer:
The Cavaliers didn't mentally check out of Tuesday's night's game. That would imply they had checked in. They got jumped by the Pistons in the opening minutes and never fought back. [...]
The NBA competition committee should remove ping-pong balls for efforts this malodorous.
You might want to steer clear of the blogosphere, too, Antawn. From Colin McGowan at Cavs: The Blog:
Alright, show of hands: who watched this thing all the way through? Do you feel it in your spine? Like, a crazy straw of pain running from rat tail of your brain up to a palm-sized region on the back of your skull, which, from what you can tell, has been pelted with about 437 D-cell batteries? Should I see a medical professional about this?
From Angelo Benedetti, who wrote a running diary of the game — this poor, poor man — at Fear the Sword:
9:36 [ED. NOTE: seven minutes before the final horn]: I'm just staring at my television, not comprehending or understanding anything that's going on. What I see looks vaguely familiar, like it's a long-lost loved one, but I don't recognize it. Something's wrong, something's off. It's like I'm watching a distorted image of something that I once cared about, only now the only emotions are disgust and revulsion.
It's not just that the Cavaliers were awful, though; the Pistons turned in a performance for the ages, seen through one lens. Basketball-Reference.com's game logs, which go back to the 1985-86 season, show no record of a single regular-season or postseason game where a team shot 60 percent or better from the field, 40 percent or better from 3-point land and 90 percent or better from the free-throw line. The Pistons did all of those things on Tuesday night.
So that's one way to look at it, Cavs fans. It took a historic performance to put this bad a whipping on your team. Surely that won't happen again when the Philadelphia 76ers, desperate for a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, come to the Q on Wednesday night. Right?