CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Cavaliers did everything they needed to do Wednesday night to keep their feeble playoff hopes alive. Unfortunately, they did not get the help they needed to stay in the race.
The Cavs defeated the Detroit Pistons, 122-100, at Quicken Loans Arena, but the Atlanta Hawks held on in their game against Boston to finally knock the Cavaliers out of postseason contention.
Still, the Cavaliers had a lot to be proud of in their 22-point drubbing of Central Division-rival Detroit. The Cavs notched 41 assists, a season high, with 53 field goals.
"The ball was hopping in the first half," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "Nobody held on to it longer than they should have, the floor was spaced, bodies were moving and our pace in the full court was great."
The Cavs' 41 assists were the most they have had since April 1994. They outscored the Pistons 69-37 in the first half.
Dion Waters topped the scorers with 22 points. Tyler Zeller shot 9 of 11 near the basket with 18 points. Spencer Hawes added 15, 13 of which came in the first quarter, when the Cavs shot 58 percent from the floor. Hawes hit all three of his shots from 3-point range.
The performance wasn't enough to keep their playoff chances alive as the Hawks held off the Boston Celtics and won, 105-97, to eliminate the Cavs from playoff contention. The Cavs were still optimistic about the future.
"I feel good about the direction we are going," Brown said. "We have a lot of competitive guys in our locker room. They are trying to get better. We want to keep practicing, keep having shoot around, keep having games to win first and get better second.
"However this thing shapes out, I can't get mad, I can't fault anybody but ourselves. You just keep moving forward. But the biggest thing is, our guys need to continue to be who they are, which is competitive guys, and take each opportunity we get on the floor to make steps in the right direction. Our ceiling is pretty high."
Kyrie Irving had eight points with five assists, all of which came in the first quarter. Irving reflected his coach's optimism about the team's growth, but he could not overlook the harsh reality of the situation.
"It is an empty feeling," the All-Star point guard said. "As big a competitor as I am, it is definitely on my mind. There is still a lot of positives that we can take from it. You always want to compete for something, especially the playoffs. Our chances were snapped tonight, it's disappointing, but we have four games left to continue to play with one another, and that's what I'm looking forward to."
Irving has been in the league three years and has yet to make the playoffs.
The Cavaliers shot 58 percent from the field in the first quarter and went on a 31-18 run. They opened up the second quarter just as hot, stretching their advantage to 50-25 with 6 minutes into the second quarter.
Matthew Dellavadova posted a double -double with 14 points and 12 assists.