It was a game the Pistons had to have. With Cleveland's starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving and rookie-scorer Dion Waiters both out due to injury, a visit from the Cavaliers ending in anything but a Pistons win would have been troubling to say the least. At the half the Pistons were up big on the short-handed Cavs 56-39, but a late fourth quarter serge had the Pistons only leading by six with the outcome in doubt for the first time all night. But to borrow a tired sportscasters expression, it was "too little, too late" for the Cleveland Cavaliers as the Pistons held on; taking the game by a final score of 89-79.
Going into the game on a four-game home winning streak, the Pistons were looking to extend their home streak to five for the first time since 2009. With Irving and Waiters out, the Cavs offensive plan would be to pound it in the paint with Anderson Varajeo. Averaging 15 points and 15 rebounds this season, Varajeo has been an All-Star caliber force for the Cavs at the center position. On Monday Varajeo put in 17 points with 18 rebounds, as the Cavaliers scored 44 points in the paint to the Pistons 46. There were plenty more opportunities for the Cavaliers to build-up their paint scoring stats, a majority of their shots came within four feet of the basket, but the Pistons made it tough by putting on a shot blocking display that would've made even Ben Wallace jealous.
13 blocks on the night for the Pistons, the highest total all-season and the highest total for a Pistons team since 2007. The best part about the block party? Nearly every red, white, and blue Piston was invited. Kyle Singler had one block, Charlie V. and Stuckey each had one as well, Greg Monroe chipped in with two of his own, Andre Drummond sent back three shots, and the 6'7" Jason Maxiell had a "Mutombo-like-night" with five blocks against the Cavs. Maxiell also scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds.
"He (Jason Maxiell) got the whole flow of the game going with some of the blocked shots he had," Andre Drummond said about Maxiell in the locker room. "Just watching him got me going as well too. Just watching him do that just gets everybody going. We all start playing in-synch."
The high energy that Jason Maxiell brings to the table isn't a surprise to anyone who's followed the team since Maxiell was drafted following the 2004 Championship. But this season, and in the last 3 games specifically, Maxiell's play has been a standout highlight for the Pistons no matter the game's outcome. Against Memphis on Friday, Maxiell pulled down nine boards, and blocked three shots to go along with his five points. On Saturday against Dallas, a game that got away from the Pistons, Maxiell had his best game of the season with 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Maybe he's playing for an NBA contract– this is Maxiell's last year under contract, and will likey test free agency. Maybe he's doing something differently off the court than in year's past. But right now, the Pistons are benefiting greatly from Maxiell's improved play this season.
Across the roster more notables included Tayshuan Prince's 15-point night, Kyle Singler's 15-point night (including 3-for-6 from three point land), Greg Monroe's nine point, 14 rebound, five assist performance, Brandon Knight's 17-point, five assist night, Rodney Stuckey's eight points and six assists off the bench, and Andre Drummond's seven points, and 12 rebounds to go along with his three blocks. Now 5-3 at home this season, the Pistons will wait for the Golden State Warriors to come to town on Wednesday. The Warriors are 10-7 and will face the Pistons as their third game in a nine-game Eastern Conference road swing, which includes both Brooklyn and Miami. Tip-off is at 7:30 pm on Wednesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills.