Pistons, Cavaliers aim to turn tide in Eastern Conference matchup

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Losses have been commonplace for both the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers this season, two teams that rapidly are tunneling their way toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

The Cavaliers will aim to snap a four-game slide on Tuesday in the opener of a home-and-home series against the visiting Pistons, who have dropped nine of their last 11 contests.

Cleveland added an unwelcome wrinkle to its difficult season, as Kevin Love publicly expressed frustration by yelling at general manager Koby Altman during a Saturday morning shootaround and displayed that emotion at times later that night during a 121-106 loss to Oklahoma City.

Love, who averages a club-best 10.3 rebounds per game, did not play the following night in the Cavaliers’ 118-103 setback to Minnesota due to what the team deemed as rest purposes.

“People are going to get frustrated in games and you just end up dealing with it,” Cleveland coach John Beilein said. “But it happens to everybody.”

Promising rookie Kevin Porter Jr. was elevated into the starting role in place of Love on Sunday, however his outing was cut short during the third quarter after his left knee buckled while he attempted to change directions. Porter, who was the 30th overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, was spotted on crutches after the game.

Reports Monday said he suffered a left knee sprain and will be re-evaluated in about two weeks.

“It kind of hurt my heart a little bit,” forward/center John Henson said, per Cleveland.com. “Young guys, this is the year for them. Especially them just learning the game and he was progressing. At this stage of the season he was looking like the steal of the draft.”

Dante Exum replaced Porter and scored 24 of his career-high 28 points in the second half. The 24-year-old Exum, who was acquired from Utah last month in the deal that sent Jordan Clarkson to the Jazz, finished 11 of 13 from the floor — including 4 of 4 on 3-pointers — in 24 minutes.

Collin Sexton, who averages a team-best 18.5 points per game, scored 19 on Sunday and had a team-high 22 in the Cavaliers’ 127-94 setback vs. Detroit on Dec. 3.

Blake Griffin recorded 16 of his 24 points in the first quarter of that contest, with four of his six 3-pointers coming in the opening stanza. The 30-year-old Griffin, however, is trending toward missing his fifth straight game with left knee soreness and reportedly is considering season-ending surgery.

Derrick Rose, who is no stranger to injuries, scored 28 points in Detroit’s 106-99 setback to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. Rose has reached the 20-point plateau in four of the five contests on the Pistons’ six-game road trip.

The former NBA MVP collected 12 points and nine assists in the first encounter versus Cleveland.

Pistons big man Andre Drummond, who chipped in 17 points and 14 rebounds in that contest, has turned a deaf ear on the constant trade talk that often includes his name.

“I’ve been dealing with this since the year I signed my contract, so the trade rumors will always come around, so this is another year for me,” said the 26-year-old Drummond, who averages team-best totals in points (17.4) and rebounds (15.9).

“It’s always that time of year around January where trade talks come. Nothing’s happened. Obviously, the talks have started, so these questions will start to come. I’ve been looking forward to them coming, but for me, I’m just going to continue to play the game I play, play here in Detroit where I love to be, and whatever happens, happens.”

–Field Level Media

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