Jarrett Allen, Kevin Love help Cleveland Cavaliers power past Detroit Pistons, 112-88

DETROIT — The Cleveland Cavaliers are one of two teams with three All-Stars — and two of them were on the bench in sweatsuits Friday night.

No problem. That’s the value of having three.

Despite being shorthanded and undermanned, the Cavaliers powered past the Pistons, 112-88. It’s Cleveland’s seventh straight win — the longest streak since 2017-18, when the franchise won 13 in a row.

Center Jarrett Allen, named a first-time All-Star during a breakout 2021-22 campaign, sent a loud reminder about his sometimes-overlooked stature Friday night. Responding to Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s pregame challenge, Allen bludgeoned the undersized Pistons throughout the game and helped set the tone at both ends of the floor. During a dominant second quarter in which the Cavs scored 16 of the first 18 points, outscored the Pistons 33-18 and took control of the game, Allen poured in 14 points while making all seven of his shot attempts.

He finished the first half with 17 points — one shy of the highest scoring half of his career.

But Allen was just getting started. He scored Cleveland’s first two buckets of the third quarter — and the Cavs cruised to victory, pushing the lead to 30 at one point.

“He was a force in the middle of the floor. They had no answer for him,” Bickerstaff said of Allen’s impact. “It was intentional. He went out to prove a point. We told him before the game that we were going to follow him, and I thought he took the challenge and imposed his will on the game.”

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Allen finished with a game-high 23 points on 11 of 16 shooting to go with seven rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 31 minutes.

While the All-Star center led the way, Friday’s win was a total team effort. Just the way Bickerstaff prefers. Six players in double figures. Showing the depth that gives Cleveland, top to bottom, one of the league’s best rosters.

“We played a complete game tonight,” Bickerstaff said following the win. “That’s one of the things we have been talking about is no matter who is on the floor, we need to live up to our standards. I thought our guys took that to heart tonight. We played Cleveland Cavaliers basketball all night.”

Kevin Love, the future Hall of Famer and stabilizing sixth man who has repeatedly sacrificed for the betterment of the team, fell two rebounds shy of his fourth career triple-double — all of which came during the 2013-14 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Love, who did not play in the final eight and a half minutes Friday night, settled for a double-double, scoring 21 points, dishing 10 assists and grabbing eight rebounds in 23 brilliant minutes off the bench. It’s Love’s fourth career point-assist double-double.

“This game shows our level of professionalism to go out there and play like this with two more guys out. We were ready to play to our standard. I think we played a great 48 minutes of basketball,” Love said. “These guys are keeping me young, keeping me fresh. I’m just finding my spots and how to be effective on different nights. I think my value on this team is doing whatever it takes to win. I will do whatever I can to push this team forward.”

Caris LeVert, who moved from his usual small forward spot and started at point guard in place of injured Darius Garland (knee sprain), added 15 points, six rebounds and six assists.

“We talked about him having multiple personalities to start the year and we didn’t know it would get to this one so soon. this like personality number five or six for him,” Bickerstaff said with a chuckle when asked about LeVert taking on so many different roles through the first few weeks. “It’s a guy who needs to be highlighted for sacrificing what he might be most comfortable doing but giving in to do what’s best for the team.”

Cedi Osman chipped in with 15 points and six assists. Evan Mobley, taken two picks behind Detroit’s Cade Cunningham in the 2021 NBA Draft, finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a career-high eight blocks.

Veteran backup Raul Neto, who missed Wednesday’s game because of a sprained ankle, had his best game as a Cavalier. One of the team’s offseason signings, the scrappy Neto tallied 10 points, five assists, five rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes.

Cunningham led the way for the overmatched Pistons with 19 points.

The Cavs have a well-established motto that Bickerstaff created last season: The strength of the team is the team.

Never was that more evident than Friday — a night they didn’t have their two best players, Garland and Mitchell, and still opened the longest road trip of the season with a decisive triumph.

Up next

The Cavs will continue their road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

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