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Cavs Notes

Junior achievement: Larry Nance Jr. comes up big, sets career highs in points and rebounds in win over Pistons

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    Cavaliers center Larry Nance Jr. dunks during Monday's 112-90 win over the Pistons at The Q. Nance, making his first start as a Cav, had career highs in points (22) and rebounds (15).

    AP PHOTO

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CLEVELAND — Less meant more and being smaller led to bigger things for the Cavaliers on Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

With Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Jeff Green out with injuries, the Cavs got a monster night from new starting center Larry Nance Jr. and the customary terrific one from LeBron James while dominating the Detroit Pistons 112-90.

“I haven’t sat out the fourth quarter in a long time and felt good about it,” said James, who put up 31 points on 11-for-17 shooting, seven rebounds and seven assists in 29 minutes. “I’ve sat out some fourth quarters, but ...”

Cleveland (37-26), which starts a season-long six-game road trip Wednesday in Denver, had lost four of its last five games at The Q, while struggling Detroit (29-35) fell for the ninth time in its last 11 games and for the ninth straight time on the road.

The 6-foot-9 Nance totally outplayed — and outhustled — 6-11, 279-pound Andre Drummond en route to posting career highs in points (22 on 9-for-15 shooting) and rebounds (15) as the Cavs recorded their largest margin of victory at home this season.

“I just tried to hit first,” the 25-year-old said. “A guy like that, any time a shot goes up, he’s trying to wedge you under the basket, so you almost have to hit first.”

Boxing out like players used to do 30 and 40 years ago, Nance so frustrated Drummond (15 points, nine rebounds) and Blake Griffin (25, eight, five assists) that each got a technical foul in the second half.

Drummond, the league’s leading rebounder at 15.8 a game, didn’t miss a shot all night — he was 5-for-5 from both the field and the line — but more often than not, Nance prevented him from even getting his hands on the ball.

“I didn’t care if I had zero rebounds,” Nance said. “I just wanted him to have zero as well.”

The Cavs also got 13 points from Rodney Hood, who replaced Cedi Osman in the starting lineup, while rookie center Ante Zizic, who had 17 points all season, posted career highs with six points and six boards.

Veteran point guard Jose Calderon was back in the rotation as well, playing 16 minutes as the Cavs improved to 19-9 in games where he’s played at least 10 minutes.

“Whenever we call on Jose, he’s always ready to play,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s why he’s great.”

A much smaller Cleveland team finished with a 53-40 advantage on the boards, a 40-26 edge in points in the paint and a 19-10 margin in second-chance points while improving to 18-3 in games Thompson has missed this season.

In addition to Nance, James and Zizic, three other Cavs — Jordan Clarkson (11 points), Osman (12) and Kyle Korver (11) — finished with six rebounds apiece.

“We did it by committee,” James said.

From an offensive standpoint, James made three straight 3-pointers while scoring 12 quick points as the Cavs went up 71-54 early in the third period. He finished with 16 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the quarter as Cleveland extended its lead to 20 heading into the fourth.

Nance, meanwhile, hit a number of midrange jumpers while adding an array of spectacular dunks.

“I didn’t know he could shoot it,” Lue said. “He never shot it in L.A. (with the Lakers).”

Said Nance: “I just haven’t gotten a chance to show much of it. Whatever it was, I just wasn’t that comfortable shooting them in L.A.”

Nance and James combined to score the Cavs’ first 20 points — Nance had 11 and seven rebounds in the first 8 1/2 minutes — but the rest of Cleveland’s players started 0-for-9 from the field as Detroit took a 28-26 lead after the opening period.

The Cavs opened the second quarter with a never-before-seen lineup of Calderon, Clarkson, Korver, Osman and Zizic and actually outscored the Pistons by two points in the three minutes that unit was on the floor, largely because those players defended.

Cleveland went on to lead by as many as nine before going into the locker room up 54-49 at halftime, at which time Nance, often playing off James, had already matched his career high with 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting while pulling down 10 rebounds.

“Everything just feels easy,” Nance said of playing with the Cavs. “(James) is a large part of that. His gravity is ridiculous. When he has the ball, the whole other team’s defense is just locked on him.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.

Cavs 112, Pistons 90

DETROIT (90): Ennis III 1-8 0-0 3, Griffin 10-22 2-5 25, Drummond 5-5 5-5 15, I.Smith 3-7 0-0 6, Bullock 4-10 0-0 11, Johnson 3-9 2-4 9, Moreland 1-5 1-1 3, Tolliver 3-5 0-0 8, Ellenson 0-2 0-0 0, Galloway 1-5 0-0 2, Buycks 1-7 0-0 2, Kennard 2-2 0-0 6. Totals 34-87 10-15 90.

CLEVELAND (112): James 11-17 4-6 31, Hood 4-12 5-5 13, Nance Jr. 9-15 4-5 22, Hill 1-5 1-1 3, J.Smith 0-3 0-0 0, Osman 5-11 0-0 12, Zizic 3-3 0-0 6, Perrantes 0-0 0-0 0, Calderon 1-3 0-0 3, Holland 0-2 0-0 0, Korver 4-7 0-0 11, Clarkson 5-10 0-0 11. Totals 43-88 14-17 112.

Detroit       28 21 21 20 — 90
Cleveland 26 28 36 22 — 112

3-Point Goals—Detroit 12-34 (Griffin 3-5, Bullock 3-7, Kennard 2-2, Tolliver 2-4, Johnson 1-3, Ennis III 1-5, Galloway 0-1, I.Smith 0-1, Ellenson 0-2, Buycks 0-4), Cleveland 12-33 (James 5-7, Korver 3-6, Osman 2-6, Calderon 1-3, Clarkson 1-5, Nance Jr. 0-1, Hill 0-1, Holland 0-1, J.Smith 0-1, Hood 0-2). Rebounds—Detroit 40 (Drummond 9), Cleveland 53 (Nance Jr. 15). Assists—Detroit 17 (I.Smith 6), Cleveland 29 (James 7). Total Fouls—Detroit 22, Cleveland 18. Technicals—Drummond, Griffin. A—20,562 (20,562).



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