The “Kyrie Irving Era” has officially begun for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the number one pick in the 2011 NBA Draft scored a game high 21 points in his first NBA exhibition contest and helped the Cavaliers defeat the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills by a final score of 91-87. The rookie came off the bench as Cleveland went with a starting back-court of Ramon Sessions and Tony Parker, however he played 27 minutes in the game. Big man Samardo Samuels also came off of the pine and put up 15 points for the evening.
Detroit got a team high 18 points from Austin Daye who also came in from the bench for the Pistons; Ben Gordon now entrenched in the starting lineup with the departure of Rip Hamilton knocked down 17 points in the game. Another well-known rookie point guard made his debut in the contest as well as the Piston’s first round pick Brandon Knight scored 9 points as a reserve.
Neither side came off particularly well in this game as the lack of practice was apparent from the start. Both sides left their offense in the locker room in the first with Cleveland holding the edge at the end of the quarter 19-15. Samuels would split a pair at the line with all zeroes on the clock in the second and the Cavaliers walked into the locker room leading 43-39.
Gordon drained a 26-foot trey with five seconds left in the third cutting the Pistons deficit to 66-61 as the period came to an end. Detroit was able to get within two points in the final 12 minutes of play, but they could never get over the hump and Cleveland would hold on for the win.
Irving had 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals while Samuels dropped 15 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks for the night. Antawn Jamison scored 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and a steal while Anderson Varejao knocked down 10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, a block and a steal in the victory.
Daye came off the pine with 16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks and a steal while Gordon added 17 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Greg Monroe recorded a double-double knocking down 12 points, 13 boards, 2 blocks and 2 steals while Charlie Villanueva scored 10 points for the night. The two opponents will meet again on Tuesday night in Cleveland for their next preseason game.