DETROIT — The Cavaliers entered Detroit on Monday right after four days off with LeBron James’ return to Cleveland just on the horizon.
But they had the Pistons to contend with. And Detroit was dominant from start to finish as it topped the Cavs, 113-102.
The Cavs had no answer for the Pistons defensively, whether it was trying to handle the duo of Andre Drummond or Blake Griffin in the paint, or containing the 3-pointer.
Drummond (23 points, 15 rebounds) and Griffin (21 points, 12 rebounds) each had double-doubles. As a team, the Pistons outscored the Cavs, 52-34, in the paint.
“Right now, we have no defensive presence. We lack physicality. And it’s getting us off to a very rough start,” Cavaliers coach Larry Drew said.
The Pistons were just as effective from the outside, shooting 40.7 percent (11-27) from beyond the arc in the first three quarters. Reggie Bullock, who had 21 points for the Pistons, was 4-for-7 from distance. And it didn’t matter whether the Cavs played man or zone, which they tried late in the first quarter.
Detroit shot 73.7 percent from the field (14-for-19) in the first quarter on its way to a 38-27 lead.
Things weren’t much better in the second quarter for the Cavs. They didn’t score for the first 5:01 of the quarter and went into the penalty fewer than two minutes in.
The Cavs never led and trailed by as much as 30 in the loss.
Collin Sexton had 18 points to lead the Cavs in defeat. He came into Monday night’s game averaging 18.8 points in his first four games as the starting point guard in the absence of George Hill.
Sexton was one of six Cavaliers in double figures in the loss. Jordan Clarkson chipped in 16 points off the bench.
Sexton didn’t play in the fourth quarter and suffered some left hip pain. He said he sustained it in the first quarter when he went for a layup against Drummond.
“He was limping the entire game,” Drew said. “I told him to come out and see how it felt the start of the second half. He was again, just noticeably limping. So I elected to take him out. I wasn’t about to put him back in.
“I don’t remember what play it was. But I noticed him limping. Just hopefully, he’ll be okay.”
Road woes continue
The Cavs’ two wins this season have come at home.
Not only did their winless play on the road continued, but so did their poor road defense. Only once in the Cavs’ eight road games this season has their opponent scored fewer than 100 points, when Chicago had 99 on Nov. 10.
The 102 points that Orlando scored on Nov. 5 against the Cavs was the only other time they held the home team to fewer than 110.
4 fourth-quarter technicals
Detroit committed four technical fouls in the fourth quarter alone.
And the duo of Kyle Korver and Rodney Hood had problems finishing those off. Korver, in his first game back after missing the previous two with a sore right foot, missed two of his three attempts. Hood also missed his technical attempt.
Climbing the boards
Tristan Thompson moved into sixth place among Cavaliers in defensive rebounds, passing Jim Chones.
He needed one defensive board to supplant Chones, who had 2,750 in his career. Thompson finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, four on the defensive end.
Anderson Varejao is fifth in Cavaliers history in defensive rebounds (2,955).
The Cavaliers return home to face James and the Lakers on Wednesday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.