James, Cavs stop Pistons


Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) works against Detroit Pistons' Richard Hamilton during fourth quarter NBA action Saturday, Dec. 31, 2005, in Cleveland. James scored 30 points in leading Cleveland over Detroit 97-84.

AP Photo/Mark Duncan
Published: Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
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 Saturday.
"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 had 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 came in on pace to win a record 73 regular-season games, but 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 had 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.
The Cavaliers, who led by 19 in the first half, pushed it to 20 late in the third quarter and then held off a late push by the Pistons, who got within 92-82 on Carlos Delfino's free throw with 3:41 remaining.
But James, who posted up in the lane more than usual, drilled a 3-pointer with 3:17 left, and after Ilgauskas' basket made it 97-82, Cleveland fans began their New Year's Eve partying a little early.
"That's the best team in the league," Gooden said. "They have a (championship) ring. We see them as the measuring stick."
James, who has scored at least 30 in 11 of his last 14 games, finished December averaging 32.4 points - the highest one-month average in club history. The Cavaliers have 18 wins after two months for the first time since 1996-97.
"We knew we had to bring our 'A' game," said James, "and that's what we did."
The Pistons started cold from the floor and remained that way in the first half, shooting just 31 percent in falling behind by 19.
"Nothing would go in," said Prince, who made his first shot and then missed 10 of 11. "Usually after we miss some shots, we heat up a little, but we couldn't get anything going."
MAVERICKS 95, HORNETS 90: Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points to help visiting Dallas beat New Orleans.
Jason Terry and Josh Howard scored 20 apiece for the Mavericks, who beat the Hornets for the 16th straight game dating to November 1999. David West led the Hornets with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Speedy Claxton came off the bench to score 17, and Chris Paul had 16 points and 10 assists.
Nowitzki averaged 30 points and shot 54 percent in the first two games against the Hornets this season. After a sluggish first half, he scored 14 in the third quarter in helping the Mavericks open a 10-point lead. They began the period by making eight of their first 10 shots, and closed it by holding the Hornets scoreless over the final 3:14.
SUNS 107, BULLS 98, OT: Shawn Marion scored eight of his 28 points in overtime and Eddie House hit a key 3-pointer to lead visiting Phoenix over the slumping Bulls.
Tied at 92 after regulation, Marion scored the Suns' first six points in overtime. His spinning layup on the right block made it 98-94 and sent the Bulls into a timeout with 2:17 left.
House then made a 3-pointer to make it a seven-point game. And after a layup by Chicago's Ben Gordon, House threw a perfect bounce pass to Marion for a one-handed dunk that made it 103-96 with 43.5 seconds left.
Kirk Hinrich scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to prevent the sixth straight loss for the Bulls.
WARRIORS 94, ROCKETS 89: Baron Davis scored 23 points and Jason Richardson added 22 to help visiting Golden State hold off the reeling Houston Rockets.
Davis also had seven assists and five rebounds and Richardson added six rebounds and five assists for the Warriors, who have won three straight games. Together, the backcourt duo went 6-for-15 from 3-point range.
McGrady capped an eventful week with 32 points and 10 rebounds. On Tuesday, his fiancee gave birth to their second child and on Wednesday, he scored a season-high 38 in a loss to New Orleans.
He scored 25 in the second half on Saturday and nearly led the Rockets back from a late 13-point deficit.

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