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Pistons Fall to Cavaliers

James scores 30 points a day after turning 21 and Cleveland defeats the top team in the league, 97-84.

January 01, 2006|From the Associated Press

The Cleveland Cavaliers weren't intimidated by the Detroit 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 at Cleveland.

"That's a good team that came into our building," Cavalier 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 Cavaliers might have come of age too.

James scored 30 points and had seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals against the Pistons, who had their winning streak stopped at nine and lost for only the fourth time.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 18 points, Hughes had 16 and Drew Gooden finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who improved to 13-3 at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cavaliers have 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 were on pace to win a record 73 regular-season games but shot a season-low 35.8% (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 only four on two-of-12 shooting and Chauncey Billups was two for 11 from the field and had 14 points.

"We played horribly offensively," Prince said. "We were missing layups -- everything."

Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton had 21 points apiece to lead the Pistons and Ben Wallace added 11 points with 18 rebounds.

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