Cavs find another gear in comeback win

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Cavaliers have beaten a whole lot of teams a whole lot of ways since they started their current tear that extended itself to 17 wins in 19 tries with a 102-93 road victory over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday.

But none of those came on the last day of a three-game, six-day road trip to save a perfect 3-0 jaunt away from the friendly confines of The Q.

And none of them came in a game in which Kyrie Irving started the night 1-for-7 … in the same game that LeBron James coughed up nine turnovers … while Timofey Mozgov simultaneously found himself saddled with early foul trouble … in the midst of a 2-for-10 shooting disaster for Iman Shumpert. And all of this happening against a revamped Pistons team that came in having won six out of nine games and surging even more since acquiring Reggie Jackson at the trade deadline.

All of it started to look like too much for the Cavs to overcome, especially when a nine-point halftime deficit quickly swelled to a 14-point hole less than a minute and a half into the third quarter.

But true to their respect-the-process ethos, Cleveland didn't let the mounting challenge suffocate it. It didn't succumb to the temptation to pack it in and start thinking about that game-of-the-season-type matchup it has coming up Thursday against the Golden State Warriors at home, either.

Nope. None of that. Coach David Blatt called timeout. The Cavs regrouped. The deficit was gone within five minutes. A double-digit lead was built back up. The winning continued.

"We just decided to wake up and play the game the way we have been playing for several weeks now," Blatt said. "We weren't defending and we came out of a timeout without the energy and without the grit we knew we had to have in order to win that game. We made the point to each other and we lived up to it, and then the game changed."

As much as the Cavs seemingly got their house in order overnight with James' return from a two-week rest and recovery period in January coinciding with a duo of destiny-altering trades to acquire Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Shumpert, there is still work being done by this group. And there's still plenty of room to grow.

"It's another eye-opener for our team," James said. "The adversity that we faced tonight, the way they were playing and the way we responded."

After giving up 62 points in the first half, the Cavs held Detroit to exactly half that, 31, in the second half on a paltry 12-for-39 shooting mark (30.8 percent).

"They just kept getting stop after stop," said new Cav Kendrick Perkins, who was mostly a spectator, playing just two minutes in his debut. "It was very impressive."

Impressive, but also informative.

"We proved to ourselves that we cannot necessarily take off any halves or any quarters," Irving said. "We're not necessarily good enough to do that yet."

On the flip side, they know there is another gear that exists inside them.

"We looked at each other and said, 'Alright, it's time to go. Time to pick it up,'" said Kevin Love, who scored 12 of his team-high 24 points in the third quarter. "We really did come together and fought back and took the lead rather quickly. It was a big win for us and showed what we were made of."

Those ingredients were equal parts offense and defense in the second half. Of course, it started with stops.

"We got gritty," Blatt said. "We just got gritty and then we got greedy on defense, which is not a bad thing. Our guys really, really laid it out there on that end of the floor. Good for our guys."

And it continued with setting up the hot hand, which was Love on this night, as he knocked in eight of 13 3-point attempts, including four during the comeback.

"Different guys are going to step up and have big nights," Love said. "We just can't care who it is. Against Washington, the first game back [from the All-Star break], I didn't play particularly well and didn't shoot the ball that many times, but we won by 38 points. As long as we're winning, I'm happy, and I think that goes all the way down the line. Guys are just happy with the roll we're on right now."

A roll that turned a potential pitfall into an unforgettable feat in the matter of minutes on Tuesday.

"We've got great chemistry, and to have something like tonight, where we were down 14 in the third and to respond the way we did, is another point in the season where you can look at and go, 'OK, that was another moment,'" James said. "And tonight was that."