Posted December 28, 2011 on AP on Fox
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons are both rebuilding, trying to make their franchises relevant in the NBA again. Cleveland looks like it might have more to work with during this lockout-shortened season. Rookie Kyrie Irving had 14 points and seven assists to help Cleveland beat Detroit 105-89 on Wednesday night, spoiling the Pistons' first home opener with new owner Tom Gores. Irving, the No. 1 pick overall, was sensational in the first half and put a damper on the party. He had 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting with five assists, three rebounds and two steals at halftime when the Cavs led by 11. The former Duke star bounced back from a six-point performance in his NBA debut, a loss to Toronto. ''In the last game, I wasn't enjoying the game,'' Irving said. ''I think I wanted to be so serious. I wasn't joking around and there was no smile on my face. It's just about feeling comfortable out there.'' Reserve Samardo Samuels scored 17 and Ramon Sessions had 16 points off the bench for the Cavaliers, who got 15 points from Antawn Jamison and 10 points apiece from Anderson Varejao and first-round pick Tristan Thompson. ''We were much more aggressive from start to finish,'' Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. Detroit's Ben Gordon had 25 points and rookie reserve Brandon Knight scored 23. Sessions made the last shot of the first quarter to put the Cavs ahead for good and they turned the game into a rout in the fourth quarter. ''You get what you deserve,'' Detroit's first-year coach Lawrence Frank said. ''We got what we deserved.'' Cleveland made 57 percent of its shots and held the Pistons to 44 percent shooting. ''When things aren't going well for us offensively, it's tough,'' Frank said. ''We surrendered a little bit.'' Gores watched the whole game from his suite and like the fans, he started off fired up - pumping his fist - and was much more subdued later in the game when the only unknown was how badly his team was going to get beat. ''I am going to be patient as long as progress is being made,'' said Gores, who is from Flint and lives in California. ''We need to win the right way.'' Gores was joined in his suite by the former owner, Karen Davidson, who searched for a buyer after her husband, William, died in 2009. The new owner took William Davidson's name off the court and put it in the rafters, unveiling William Davidson's signature along with 1974-2009 - the years he owned the three-time championship franchise - above new banners of retired jerseys during a first-half ceremony. ''We have not forgotten about him at all,'' Gores said. The Pistons called a game a sellout, but there were small patches of chairs without fans in them sprinkled throughout the 22,076-seat arena. Those who came were loud early and quiet late. ''We didn't do our best to win, but seeing the fan support was really exciting,'' Knight said. Cleveland's coaches and players left their bench after the national anthem to avoid the elaborate pregame festivities, then returned to take care of business in a matchup of teams shooting for their first win. The Cavs look like they found the right guy to lead the way, counting on the 19-year-old Irving as a point guard who can create shots for teammates and himself. ''I told him before the game, `When you have the ball in your hands, you've got to push it to the point of exhaustion,''' Scott recalled. Cleveland stayed in control of the game in the second and third quarters, then turned the game into a rout with a dominant final quarter as a once-raucous and mostly filled arena turned quiet and almost empty. ''You feel like you let the fans down,'' Frank said. Detroit lost its opener by 12 points at Indiana. ''This doesn't get fixed in two weeks,'' Frank said. ''This is going to take a lot of work.'' Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who like Gores graduated from Michigan State, attended the game and spoke with a handful of reporters before the game. ''We're definitely committed to the rebuilding process right now,'' Gilbert said. ''We want to build through the draft and we love the corps of young guys we've got.'' The Cavs beat Detroit in the 2007 Eastern Conference finals to play for their first NBA championship, reached the conference finals two years later, lost in the second round in 2010 - then were spurned by superstar LeBron James bolting from his home state team to play in Miami. Gilbert said James' decision to leave as a free agent seems like ''10 years ago'' and insisted he only thinks about him when Cleveland plays the Heat. ''We're just really focused on the future and rebuilding the franchise and doing it for the long haul,'' Gilbert said. NOTES: The Cavs added guard Manny Harris to their NBDL team, the Canton Charge. They cut the former Michigan star after he missed training camp with a burn on his right foot that Cavs doctors couldn't treat during the NBA lockout. ... Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was featured during a part of the pregame festivities and watched the game from a front-row seat.
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