Cavaliers hand Pistons 4th loss of season, 97-84
CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers weren't intimidated by the Pistons' impressive record, rich history or Ben Wallace's biceps.
With a Pistons-like defensive performance, Cleveland made Detroit look ordinary in a 97-84 victory yesterday.
"That's a good team that came into our building," Cavs guard Larry Hughes said. "We think we're supposed to win."
One day after LeBron James turned 21, and against the NBA's top squad, the Cavs may have come of age, too.
James scored 30 points with seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals against the Pistons, who saw their winning streak stopped at nine and lost for just the fourth time.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 18 points, Hughes 16 and Drew Gooden 12 with 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who posted their most impressive victory on the final day of '05 and improved to 13-3 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Cleveland has won the last three meetings and four of five at home against the Pistons, the team they're trying to catch in the Central Division and the franchise they aspire to be like someday.
"I told LeBron, 'It's just like when Chicago won the championship. If you want to go deep in the playoffs, then this is the team we have to go through. This is the team we have to beat,' " Donyell Marshall said. "That's a very big step for us."
The Pistons shot a season-low 36 percent (29 of 81) from the floor and dropped to 24-4 — still one of the best starts in league history.
Tayshaun Prince, averaging 15.1 points, had just four on 2-of-12 shooting and Chauncey Billups was only 2 for 11 from the field and finished with 14.
"We played horribly offensively," Prince said. "We got the shots we wanted but couldn't make anything. We were missing layups — everything."
Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton had 21 points apiece to lead the Pistons and Ben Wallace added 11 with 18 rebounds.
Mavericks 95, Hornets 90: Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points and Jason Terry and Josh Howard scored 20 apiece for visiting Dallas, which beat New Orleans for the 16th straight game since November 1999.
Nowitzki made all nine of his free throws, giving him 49 in a row and tying the team record set by Steve Nash in 2002.
Suns 107, Bulls 98: Shawn Marion scored eight of his 28 points in overtime and Eddie House hit a key 3-pointer and fed Marion for a dunk as visiting Phoenix beat Chicago for its fourth straight victory.
Tied at 92 after regulation, Marion scored the Suns' first six points in overtime. After House's 3-pointer, Chicago's Ben Gordon scored on a layup. House then threw a bounce pass to Marion for a one-handed dunk that made it 103-96 with 43.5 seconds left.
Warriors 94, Rockets 89: Baron Davis scored 23 points, Jason Richardson added 22 and visiting Golden State nearly blew a 13-point lead in the final three minutes before beating Houston for its third straight victory.
Trailing 87-74 with 3:12 to play, the Rockets rallied behind Tracy McGrady, who scored 32 points, and closed to 90-89 with 18.4 seconds. But Derek Fisher ad Troy Murphy each sank two free throws to seal the victory.
Jazz 108, 76ers 102: Mehmet Okur finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko converted a three-point play with 18.9 seconds remaining as host Utah rallied to beat Philadelphia.
The Jazz blew a 15-point lead and needed to rally from a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter, scoring the final seven points of the game and spoiling Allen Iverson's 37-point night for Philadelphia.
Grizzlies 100, SuperSonics 96: Dahntay Jones made a one-handed 14-footer with 6.6 seconds left, and after Rashard Lewis made two free throws with 3.3 seconds, Bobby Jackson sealed the victory with two free throws with 2.9 seconds left as visiting Memphis beat Seattle.
Jones scored after Jackson drove the lane and missed an underhanded layup badly. He grabbed the ball out of the air and passed to Jones, who hit the shot to put Memphis ahead 98-94. The Sonics argued that Jackson traveled, while officials ruled the ball was tipped.
Spurs 98, Nuggets 88: Tim Duncan scored 25 points and Manu Ginobili added 20, leading visiting San Antonio over Denver, which has lost four of its past five at the Pepsi Center.
Denver led 45-41 after a sloppy first half in which the Nuggets shot 33 percent and the Spurs 37 percent, but Ginobili scored six points in a 10-run the Spurs used to take a 61-57 lead they never lost.
Celtics 111, Clippers 92: Ricky Davis scored 20 points, Paul Pierce added 19 and Boston snapped a six-game road losing streak with a victory over Los Angeles.
The Clippers scored the game's first eight points, but the Celtics took the lead for good by scoring the first eight points of the second period to break a 31-all tie.