James and Nance power Cavs past Pistons 112-90

AP, CLEVELAND, Ohio

Wed, Mar 07, 2018 - Page 16

LeBron James on Monday night scored 31 points before taking a seat on the bench, while Larry Nance Jr reached career highs with 22 points and 15 rebounds in his first start for Cleveland as the Cavaliers closed a disappointing five-game home stand on a positive note with a 112-90 win over the Detroit Pistons.

With Cleveland missing three big men — All-Star Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Jeff Green — because of injuries, the Cavs needed someone to step up and Nance came through.

Wearing the same No. 22 his father had retired in Cleveland, 25-year-old Nance had the best game of his young career.

James was his usual brilliant self, making five of seven three-pointers and adding seven rebounds and seven assists. With the Cavs comfortably ahead, James sat the entire fourth quarter, a rarity in this odd season.

Blake Griffin scored 25 to lead Detroit, who have lost nine straight away from home. The Pistons have not won on the road since Jan. 10.

Andre Drummond scored 15, but did not reach double-digit rebounds for the first time in 19 games.

Cleveland’s injuries forced Cavs coach Tyronn Lue to change his starting lineup yet again. Lue moved Nance into Thompson’s spot and started Rodney Hood over rookie Cedi Osman.

It was only one game, but Cleveland’s latest look was encouraging. The Cavs have been in a funk lately as they try to integrate four new players, but they got a win before embarking on a two-week, six-game trip.

James led the way, but it was Nance who helped negate Detroit’s size advantage and made several big plays.

By halftime, Nance had matched his career best with 18 points, and for the second straight game, Nance upstaged James with a sensational dunk.

J.R. Smith scooped a pass toward the rim that Nance grabbed with one hand and slammed home, triggering another eruption from the crowd and his teammates on the bench.