Just when the Detroit Pistons looked like they were putting everything together, their vaunted frontcourt got dominated by the one-man wrecking crew known as Dwight Howard. The Pistons look to regroup in their final game before the holiday break as they visit the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Detroit watched Howard rack up 35 points and 19 rebounds for undermanned Houston in a 114-97 win Saturday night, while the Cavaliers are coming off a 100-84 loss to Chicago.
Detroit had won three of four behind a string of solid performances from big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, but following a 116-106 loss to Charlotte, Detroit ,and Drummond, in particular, had no answer for Howard. He shot 13-of-18 from the field in his best game of the season.
"At the end I thanked him for the lesson," Drummond said following the game. "He said, 'any time.'"
The Cavaliers present another frontcourt challenge, led by the returning-to-form Andrew Bynum.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN (Detroit), FSN Ohio (Cleveland)
ABOUT THE PISTONS (13-16): Expectations are soaring for Drummond, the 21-year-old who is averaging better than a double-double in his second NBA season. Saturday's lesson from Howard typified the struggles Drummond has had defending in the post, a skill head coach Maurice Cheeks believes will only get better as he continues to match up against the league's best.
"He's got to learn how to guard those guys on the block a little bit better, use his weight, ride them off the post a bit more," Cheeks told the Detroit Free Press. "He's got a little ways to go in that area."
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (10-16): Bynum's increased minutes as he works his way back from serious knee injuries, combined with a logjam up front, has made life difficult for second-year center Tyler Zeller. After a spate of injuries to the Cleveland frontcourt resulted in him averaging better than 26 minutes as a rookie, Zeller is at just over seven minutes of action per game so far in 2013-14. He has played just three times in December.
"I'm just trying to do whatever I can," he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "If it happens, it happens. Just make the best of it."
1. Detroit has won the previous six meetings, and prevailed 111-104 in their last encounter April 10.
2. Drummond averages 13.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in four career meetings against Cleveland.
3. The Pistons surrendered 62 points in the paint against the Rockets.