Cavs cruise past Pistons
CLEVELAND — The Central Division championship banner was hung in an empty arena yesterday morning with no announcement and no celebration.
Later that night, the Cleveland Cavaliers methodically picked apart the Detroit Pistons, 104-79, for their league-best seventh straight win and 13th in their past 14 games.
The NBA's top team continues to quietly march toward the playoffs and could get more good news with the return of fan favorite Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The first day he is eligible to re-sign with Cleveland is today.
"He's a good friend of mine and a great teammate," LeBron James said. "If that's the case of him coming back ... I'm excited."
James had 15 points and seven assists and sat out the fourth quarter. Instead, Cleveland's role players were plenty powerful to handle the Pistons.
J.J. Hickson and Anthony Parker combined for 20 points in the decisive third quarter, Leon Powe doubled his previous season high with 16 points and the Cavaliers handled the Pistons in the second half. Hickson finished with 13 points and eight rebounds while Parker had 11 points, including nine in the third quarter.
Rockets 116, Knicks 112: Aaron Brooks scored seven straight points down the stretch and Houston got strong efforts from the players it got for Tracy McGrady to beat host New York.
Kevin Martin, acquired by the Rockets from Sacramento in the three-team deal that sent McGrady to New York, led Houston with 28 points. Rookie Jordan Hill finished with a season-high 13 points, while Jared Jeffries took two charges in the final quarter.
McGrady finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes.
Kings 102, Clippers 89: Carl Landry scored 24 points and Beno Udrih had 20 points and a career-high 17 assists, leading short-handed Sacramento over host Los Angeles.
Tyreke Evans, the Kings' rookie point guard and leading scorer, was out with a mild concussion, a bruised jaw, lacerated gums and chipped teeth. The injuries were the result of an inadvertent elbow he took on Friday night from Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova while they were going for a loose ball.
Hawks 119, Spurs 114, OT: Marvin Williams scored 26 points and host Atlanta clinched a playoff spot, beating San Antonio for the first time in five years.
Joe Johnson's jumper with 1:21 remaining in overtime gave Atlanta a 113-111 lead. After a missed 3-pointer by San Antonio's Matt Bonner, Al Horford hit a jumper as the shot clock expired to push the lead to four points with 35 seconds remaining.
Pacers 121, Thunder 101: Danny Granger scored 32 points to help host Indiana beat Oklahoma City.
Jeff Green led Oklahoma City with 20 points. Teammate Kevin Durant, the league's No. 2 scorer, finished with 16 points on 4-for-16 shooting.
Lakers 99, Wizards 92: Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 24 points in the second quarter, and host Los Angeles sent Washington to its 11th straight loss.
Pau Gasol had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who won their sixth straight after a three-game skid. Al Thornton had 18 points for Washington.
Suns 93, Trail Blazers 87: Jared Dudley scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, and Grant Hill hit two key baskets as host Phoenix won its fourth straight by beating Portland.
Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Brandon Roy led Portland with 23 points.