Saturday , Dec , 31 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

James leads Cavs over streaking Pistons

Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) – LeBron James poured in a game-high 30 points,
grabbed seven rebounds and handed out seven assists, as Cleveland put an end
to Detroit’s season-high nine-game winning streak by posting a convincing
97-84 win at Quicken Loans Arena.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 18 points and 11 boards while Larry Hughes contributed
16 points for the Cavaliers, who have won seven of their last eight games.
Donyell Marshall added 13 points and six rebounds while Drew Gooden posted 12
points and 13 rebounds in the win.

“Yes this game does help because that is the best team in the league, but we
have to keep going no matter who we play on that end of the court…Anytime
you play the best team in the league and get a win, it feels good,” said
Cleveland head coach Mike Brown.

Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace both netted 21 points for the Pistons,
who lost for the first time since dropping a 92-78 decision to Utah on
December 12. Detroit, which is off to its best start in franchise history,
also lost for only the second time in its past 17 contests.

Chauncey Billups scored 14 and Ben Wallace added 11 points and a game-high 18
boards in the loss.

Cleveland led 21-20 after one quarter, but blew the game open in the second.

The Cavaliers scored 11 of the first 15 points to start the second period,
keyed by two frees from Marshall and five points by James, to open up a 32-24
advantage. Leading by the same eight points moments later, Cleveland then
erupted for an 11-0 spurt to seize a 19-point advantage.

During the big run, Ilgauskas scored five points as the Pistons went scoreless
for nearly three minutes. Eric Snow capped the flurry on a pair of foul shots
with 4:40 left in the period to give the Cavs a comfortable 47-28 lead.

Cleveland eventually carried a 54-40 lead into the intermission.

“They came out and were very aggressive,” said Detroit head coach Flip
Saunders. “As I told the guys before the game, in an emotional game like this,
they’re going to play extremely well and play aggressive. You have to match
their intensity and make shots. The two things you need to do to start the
game, we didn’t do.”

James scored 14 points for the Cavaliers, who shot 46 percent from the field
in the first half. Hamilton had eight points to pace Detroit, which connected
on only 31 percent of its tries.

In the third quarter, Ilgauskas’ hoop just over five minutes in extended the
lead to 68-50 and the margin grew as high as 20 points on two free throws by
James with 1:55 to go in the frame. Cleveland entered the final stanza
enjoying a sizeable 81-63 lead.

The Pistons tried to mount a comeback in the fourth, pulling within 83-72 on
Rasheed Wallace’s three-pointer with 9 1/2 minutes left. The Cavs, though,
quickly extended the gap back to 16 points moments later.

However, Detroit would not go away and showed its championship resolve by
eventually trimming the deficit to 92-82 on one free throw by Carlos Delfino
with 3:42 left. James, though, hit a step-back three to make it a 13-point
game, and following a Delfino miss, Ilgauskas made it 97-82 on a layup with
just over 2:30 remaining to seal the win.

“We had to bring our ‘A’ game and that’s what we did,” said James.

Game Notes

Detroit shot a season-low 35.8 percent from the field, which included a dismal
4-of-20 effort from behind the arc. The Cavaliers made 43.8 percent of their
shots and hit 6-of-18 three-pointers…Cleveland has won six straight at home
and is 13-3 at Quicken Loans Arena this season…The Pistons had won two
straight and seven of their last eight as the visitor. Detroit is 12-3 on the
road this season…The Pistons have lost three straight and four of their last
five in Cleveland…The Cavaliers won 18 games during the first two months of
the season for the first time since accomplishing the feat in 1996-97.