AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — All-Star guard Kyrie Irving is finally discovering what it’s like to string together some victories.
Cleveland’s third-year point guard heads into All-Star weekend feeling good about his team for a change, as the Cavaliers notched their first four-game winning streak in four seasons.
Irving made the game’s biggest shot, a 3-pointer with 27.2 seconds remaining, in a 93-89 triumph over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night at The Palace.
The Cavaliers (20-33) haven’t won this many games in a row since they had an eight-game streak in March 2010, when LeBron James was still wearing their uniform. They did it the hard way, never taking a lead until Irving’s free throws with 2:06 remaining.
“It’s been fun,” said Irving, who had 23 points. “Last year, we went on a three-game winning streak and laid an egg at home. This time, we had a back-to-back and we could have folded, especially at halftime, but we trusted one another. Coach (Mike) Brown didn’t really have to say much, especially in the third and fourth quarters.”
Power forward Tristan Thompson scored a season-high 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers (20-33), who snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Pistons. Thompson scored 14 in the fourth quarter, when Cleveland outscored Detroit 34-23, including a pair of putback dunks after Irving’s go-ahead free throws.
“I thought Tristan had a monster game,” Brown said. “Early in the game, his post defense wasn’t good. He buckled down and found a way to defend the right way as the game went on. Then, he impacted the game with his rebounding and his ability to run and his ability to score in the painted area.”
Cleveland was still clinging to a one-point lead when Irving fired in his 3-pointer over Detroit swingman Kyle Singler. That touched off a celebration on the Cavs’ bench, but Irving was not impressed.
“I was shown the video,” Irving said. “A couple of those dance moves, we’ve got to work on as a team going forward. We’ve got to get some practice in. Practice makes perfect when it comes to dancing, too.”
The Pistons seemed to be dancing toward a fourth straight win of their own before the Cavs held them to 33.3 percent shooting in the second half and forced nine turnovers.
“We’re going to get to a point where guys understand that you’ve just got to find a way to win,” said Cleveland forward Luol Deng, who shot 0 for 9. “When we get to that point, we’ll have more wins like this. It’s changing a little. Guys are starting to enjoy it and can’t wait for the next game. That’s what happens when you win.”
Detroit’s fourth-quarter collapse was a fitting conclusion to its pre-All-Star break schedule. It has lost eight games after leading or being tied heading into the final quarter.
“They have an All-Star point guard in Kyrie Irving that can control the game down the stretch,” said Pistons interim coach John Loyer, who is 1-1 after replacing Mo Cheeks, who was fired on Sunday. “They made a big shot. We contested it. You lead for 46 minutes, you expect to win the game.”
Pistons center Andre Drummond, the league’s third-leading rebounder, blamed himself for allowing Thompson to grab two critical offensive rebounds.
“I’ve got to be better down the stretch of the fourth quarter,” he said.
Forward Josh Smith led the Pistons (22-30) with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Drummond contributed 16 points and 17 rebounds. Forward Greg Monroe added 16 points and nine rebounds and swingman Kyle Singler chipped in 12 points.
Detroit guard Rodney Stuckey, who scored four points, played only one minute of the second half after experiencing dizziness.
NOTES: Cleveland C Anderson Varejao missed his second consecutive game with a sore back. … Detroit C Andre Drummond’s 39 double-doubles are the most by a Piston since Grant Hill posted 44 in 1995-96. “He’s just scratched the surface,” Pistons interim coach John Loyer said of Drummond. “His surface so far has been pretty good.” … The Pistons play a home-and-home against Charlotte, one of the teams they are battling for a playoff spot, upon returning from the All-Star break on Tuesday. The Cavs open their post-All Star break schedule at Philadelphia the same night. … The Pistons are 10-4 at home when shooting at least 45 percent. … Cleveland has used 15 lineups and started 13 players, while Detroit has used only five lineups and eight starters. … PF Tristan Thompson is the only Cavaliers player to appear in every game. … The Cavaliers’ last victory over the Pistons had been a 101-100 thriller on Feb. 21, 2012.
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