CLEVELAND -- These are the types of games a team on the rebuild isnt supposed to win.
OK, so the Cavaliers dont like to use the word rebuilding very much. I get that. But at the very least, theyre repurposing -- kind of like taking what was once a vacant building and decorating it with some fancy lights.
And it was lights out for Detroit on Tuesday at The Q, as the Cavs overcame a 17-point deficit in the third quarter to escape with a 101-100 win.
Make that two wins by one point in as many home games, as well as two straight in which they were mostly saved by their 19-year-old rookie.
That would be none other than rookie point guard Kyrie Irving, who initially looked about as effective as someone wearing cinder blocks for shoes through the first three quarters.
Irving moved slowly. He left his feet and passed the ball to no one in particular. He bent over and clutched his shorts, seemingly wondering if Pistons rookie Brandon Knight was ever gonna get over it and stop playing without a chip on his shoulder.
The answer was no on Knights part, so Irving was forced to do what he has done all season. He went bonkers in the fourth, scoring 17 of his 25 points and basically just willing his team to victory. And so much for the talk about how he only compiled three assists in the previous two games combined.
Against the Pistons, Irving finished with eight.
I didnt think through the first three quarters, (Irving) was really trying to assert himself, Scott said. In the fourth quarter, he just got more aggressive, getting to the basket and create shots for himself and his teammates. That just got us going.
Because Irving waited until the fourth, his night overshadowed a magnificent performance from Antawn Jamison (32 points) and a pretty strong one from Alonzo Gee (16 points, 11 rebounds).
Jamison kept it from getting embarrassing when the Pistons were about to run away with it -- scoring all but three of his points in the first three quarters.
Meanwhile, Gee is 6-foot-6 and 219 pounds of pure energy and athleticism. Despite this, he had struggled a little in the previous week, with other teams sort of packing it in and keeping him away from the hoop.
But like Irving, Gee was relentless when it meant the most. This was best exemplified with about 30 seconds left and the game in the balance at 95-all.
Gee drove to basket, had his shot blocked, got the ball back, then went to the other side and slammed it through with two hands. The whole thing seemed to take about a split second, and although the Cavs led by two, the Pistons looked deflated, frustrated.
Its no wonder Scott said, We think hes one of the most improved players in the league.
Gee is humble and very soft-spoken, acting perfectly content with his role off the bench and often deferring the credit.
Things were no different on this night.
Kyrie is unbelievable and I just fed off his energy, Gee said. He made good plays for us and set up easy shots.
So the Cavs move to 13-17 with a game left before the All-Star break (Wednesday vs. New Orleans), looking a lot like a team not sure many thought they would be.
They look like they expect to win, will do so by any means necessary, and have a rookie in Irving who knows how to get them to where they need to go.
Just keeping things interesting. Label that however youd like.
Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO