Pistons 96, Cavaliers 73

0

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) – Detroit’s win moved the Pistons within a game of home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Cleveland Cavaliers hope they only lost the game.

LeBron James sprained his left ankle late in the third quarter and did not return, leaving a game that was already a rout and Detroit went on to beat Cleveland 96-73 Wednesday night.

The Pistons will secure home court with one more victory, or a San Antonio loss. Detroit has the tiebreaker because it beat the Spurs in both meetings.

James landed awkwardly while being guarded by Tayshaun Prince on a three-point play, and the MVP candidate hopped on his right foot, keeping weight off his left foot. He was checked out on the court by Cavs athletic trainer Max Benton during a timeout, then made a free throw to complete his three-point play.

The star was taken out a second later, left the court moments afterward and had X-rays taken. The Cavs said his status is day to day.

James had 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting through three quarters and Detroit was leading 75-51.

If Detroit (63-15) wins at least two of its last four games, it will break the team record for victories set during the 1988-89 season, when it went on to win the first of two straight titles.

The Pistons took control against Cleveland with a 14-0 run midway through the second quarter.

Rasheed Wallace had 16 points and nine rebounds, Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton each scored 14 for the Pistons, who have won eight of nine. Three reserves – Maurice Evans (13), Tony Delk (12) and Antonio McDyess (10) – added to Detroit’s balanced attack, which Chauncey Billups directed with eight assists.

Meanwhile, only Zydrunas Ilgauskas helped James carry the scoring load. Ilgauskas, back from an ankle injury, scored 10 points and the Cavs didn’t have another scorer with more than eight points.

Early in the fourth quarter, Cavs forward Alan Henderson dislocated a finger on his right hand on a missed dunk and did not return.

Cleveland had won 11 of 12, a streak that secured home-court advantage in the first round and a second-round matchup with the Pistons if both teams advance.

Before the game, Ilgauskas said it was important to get back on the court because he doesn’t want to be rusty when the playoffs start in two weeks. The lumbering center looked sharp early, then was lackluster.

Ilgauskas had eight points and three rebounds when he came out of the game with 3:10 left in the first quarter – twice as many points as James had at the time.

James later scored five points to put the Cavs ahead – for the first time – 19-16, then the Pistons responded by scoring the last 11 points of the quarter and went ahead 27-19.

The Pistons then had their decisive run, which helped them lead 56-29 at halftime.

Other than James and Ilgauskas, the Cavs combined to score four points on 2-of-20 shooting in the first half while the Pistons had eight players with at least four points.

Notes: Cavs center Anderson Varejao was ejected in the second quarter after taking down Rasheed Wallace of the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Varejao hit Wallace’s shoulder on a driving layup, then appeared to push him down. … Cleveland coach Mike Brown said Larry Hughes is “still finding his way,” and could not say when, or if, he would return to the starting lineup ahead of shooting guard Ronald Murray. Hughes returned earlier this month missing three months with a broken right middle finger. … Detroit won the season series 3-1. … Faces in the crowd included Robert Traylor, a former Cavalier and Michigan Wolverine, and several Detroit Tigers.

AP-ES-04-12-06 2248EDT

Advertisement
SHARE