Game Review: Cleveland 99, Detroit 78

Micheal Ray Richardson once said of a New York Knicks’ fading season, “The ship be sinking.” A reporter then asked how far it could sink, and he said, “Sky’s the limit.”

Sounds like that could apply to any other team?

Detroit has a season-worst, six-game losing streak. And the most recent loss was a 21-point defeat that was worse than the final score.

That’s right — a 21-point loss that was worse than the numbers indicate.

The Pistons, at .500 the deepest into a season in eight years, are tied with Philadelphia for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons haven’t played a first-round series without home-court advantage since Terry Mills and Christian Laettner were their starting bigs.

The margin of defeat tied for Detroit’s second-worst of the season with a loss to Dallas a month ago.

Cleveland outscored Detroit, 36-17, in the second quarter — the Pistons worst quarter since the Bulls outscored them by the same score in the fourth quarter 13 days ago.

And the Cavaliers won the first quarter, 31-17. Detroit hasn’t had two quarters that bad since at least the 2002-03 season.

Cleveland went on runs of 15-0, 12-0 and 13-0 in the first half, making the entire second half garbage time. Sometimes, teams get out to fast starts. The key is slowing them enough to stay in the game, so when you can make a run of your own, you get back in the game.

But the Pistons had none of that, allowing the Cavaliers to dictate every facet of the game for the entire first half.

So even though Detroit outscored Cleveland by 13 in the second half, it didn’t matter because the Pistons were so lifeless in the first half.

The Cavaliers had four players score in double figures in the first half. The Pistons had none.

The Cavaliers made 7-of-10 3-pointers and shot 56.4 percent from the field. The Pistons made 1-0f-4 3-pointers and shot 36.6 percent from the field.

The Cavaliers had 22 rebounds. The Pistons had 18.

The Cavaliers had 14 assists and one turnover. The Pistons had nine assists and five turnovers.

And on and on and on.

In just a few months, the ship will be sunk. At least, Joe Dumars will plundering for free agent treasure.

Rip(e)

Richard Hamilton scored 11 points. Coupled with the four points he scored against the Spurs on Thursday, this is his lowest-scoring two-game stretch since his second season.

It seemed like he was really thriving in his role off the bench, but he’s not completely there yet.

Rotation

Amir Johnson played nine minutes last night, bringing his total to 23 minutes in the three games since he was removed from the starting lineup. That includes a DNP-CD.

In the last two games, Jason Maxiell has 10.5 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes per game.

If Maxiell, who has been in Michael Curry’s doghouse for so much of the season, has already passed Johnson in the rotation, what was Johnson doing starting in the first place?

The likely answer is Dumars wanted to see what Johnson, still only 21, could do in extended minutes. Flip Saunders never really believed in Johnson, and it’s clear Curry has lost faith, too.

So why didn’t Dumars trade Johnson before his value plummeted with a benching?

Garbage man

Walter Herrmann might be the best garbage-time player in the league. Playing the most minutes in a game since November, Herrmann scored 13 points in 18 minutes. Ten of them came in the fourth quarter.

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