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Big men push Pistons past Cavs

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- To Detroit Pistons coach Lawrence Frank, it's all about rim protection.

It doesn't hurt that he's got two of the best protectors in the Central Division in rookie center Andre Drummond and power forward Greg Monroe.

Drummond finished with a career-high 29 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday in the Pistons' 111-104 decision over the Cavaliers before 13,844 at Quicken Loans Arena.

Monroe added 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Pistons (27-52).

"The great thing about Andre is he struggled in the first half and was able to bounce back," Frank said. "I thought his energy was great to start that third quarter. ...

"Obviously, guys did a great job of finding him around the basket. He's an explosive finisher."

Drummond made 10 of 11 shots from the field, mostly dunks.

The Cavs decided to hack Drummond in the fourth quarter. He's just a 34.4 percent foul shooter. He foiled their plan, though, by making eight of 14 from the line in the fourth. In the game, he shot 9-for-17 from the line.

"I was thinking about it this morning knowing what he shot from the line," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "We wanted to throw a little bit of a wrinkle at them if he shot his percentage."

Despite the efforts of Drummond and Monroe, the Cavs were in the game prior to a critical error by power forward Tristan Thompson with 17.1 seconds left.

Cleveland (24-54) trailed 105-103 after Kyrie Irving's missed 3-pointer with 21.9 seconds remaining.

Drummond corralled the rebound. Here's where it gets fuzzy for Thompson. He said he tried to foul Drummond, but by the time he got to him, Drummond already had passed the ball.

As per NBA rules, teams can't foul players off the ball with under 2 minutes to play. Thus, the Pistons got two free throws and the ball out of bounds. They also got to pick who shot the free throws -- and they chose 79 percent shooter Rodney Stuckey.

"It was my fault," he said. "I tried to foul right away. They didn't see it until after he passed the ball. Maybe I should have told them I was going to foul him."

Stuckey split the two free throws, which extended the Pistons' lead to 106-103. After Detroit took the ball out of bounds, forward Jonas Jerebko followed with another free throw with 16.8 seconds left for a four-point advantage.

It was too much to overcome for the Cavs, who have now lost two in a row.

Scott said during a timeout he told the players to foul the man with the ball. He called Thompson's mental lapse a "mistake."

"He felt he had the ball," Scott said. "He was thinking right, but it way too late."

The Pistons have beaten the Cavs six consecutive times, including a 4-0 sweep this season.

Irving paced the Cavs with 27 points and nine assists. He turned the ball over five times Wednesday, 13 the past two nights. It was his first appearance in a back-to-back since he's returned from a sprained shoulder.

"He looked a little tired in the first half," Scott said. "He picked it up in the second half."

Irving said all players are fatigued at this time of the year.

"That's no excuse for not executing on both ends of the floor," he said.

Thompson contributed 19 points and eight rebounds, while guard Dion Waiters added 11 points and three rebounds in his first game since March 20.

"I thought (Waiters) was OK," Scott said. "(He was) nothing special."

Pistons guard Will Bynum was particularly lethal in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 16 points. Stuckey added 18 points and seven assists.

"I think we were being aggressive," Monroe said. "I think everyone was moving the ball, being unselfish. I think that's all it was. I just think we were being aggressive. That's how we should play."

NOTES: Waiters missed 10 games with a sore left knee. Scott wanted to play Waiters and Irving a lot together, but they were on the court together for just 2:14. Waiters, who played 15 minutes against the Pistons, might get his minutes expanded Friday, possibly even drawing a start against the New York Knicks. There was a fear that Waiters would need surgery, but the knee healed on its own. ... Scott said he'd love to bring both Irving and Waiters to Cleveland Clinic Courts this summer to work out together. Irving probably won't play in the summer league, where he broke a bone in his hand last year in Las Vegas. "Bad things happen to Kyrie at summer league," Scott said. ... NBA teams were 4,382-1 before Tuesday when they had a 20-point lead with nine minutes left in the game, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Cavs squandered a 20-point advantage in their 99-94 loss to Indiana. ... Indiana University center Cody Zeller declared for the 2013 draft on Wednesday. "I'm excited," said his older brother, Cavs center Tyler Zeller. "But I would have been excited if he had gone back to school. He deserves everything he got." The 7-foot Cody is expected to be drafted in the top 10. ... Cavs swingman C.J. Miles (concussion) was placed on the inactive list. Power forward Luke Walton (sprained right ankle) and guard Daniel Gibson (sore right elbow) were also out. For the Pistons, power forward Jason Maxiell (detached retina) and point guard Jose Calderon (strained right triceps) are out.

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