DETROIT — Some things aren’t a huge surprise.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James and the Detroit Pistons don’t, and sometimes, that’s just too much too overcome — no matter how good you’re feeling early.
The Pistons are indeed having a good season. But they’re not quite yet the Cavs.
The best example of that came Monday night, at the Pistons’ shiny and new Little Caesars Arena, as James and the Cavs took control early, never relented and cruised to a 116-88 hammer job in their easiest win of the season.
The Pistons (11-7) still lead the Cavs (10-6) by a game for first place in the East. But that’s based on record. If you’re basing it on who has the mental edge … well, just know there is a long way to go.
“We didn’t play well at either end,” said Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. “We made mistakes and they played terrifically.”
How bad were things for the Pistons?
Only three players reached double figures in scoring and Tobias Harris led the way with 11 points. Yes, the Pistons’ leading scorer had to scrap and claw just to get 11.
Meanwhile, James scored 16 of his 18 points in the first eight minutes, and that was that. The Cavs led 73-46 at halftime, and hey, so much for the Pistons allowing 101.2 points per game. They almost gave that up in the first 25 minutes.
As is so often the case in today’s NBA, offense overcame defense. The Cavs probably could have scored 150 if coach Tyronn Lue had played the starters even five minutes longer.
After all, the Cavs shot 53 percent from the field and 49 percent on 3-pointers. At one point, Cleveland led by 39 points. Detroit’s biggest lead? Two.
“They shot the ball really, really well, and it was just a long, long night,” Van Gundy said. “Like I said, it was one of those nights where they were great and we were awful, and that’s what happens.”
So what’s next for the Pistons?
The best answer is probably to figure out what led to their outstanding start and get back to doing those things on a regular basis.
“We had a rough week,” Pistons forward Stanley Johnson said. “I think we lost three of four. So it’s all about the next game, and we’re very cognizant of the schedule coming up. But that’s no excuse. This is the NBA.”
And for the Pistons and so many other teams in the East, this is the world according to LeBron James.