LeBron lifts Cavs over Pistons for 13th straight win

BY foxsports • April 1, 2009

LeBron James fired down the lane at full speed, ignored Rasheed Wallace's feeble attempt to stop him and scored.

Cleveland's star then stood under the basket, flexing his biceps like a bodybuilder for all to admire.

Make no mistake, there's a new bully in the Central Division.

James made two crucial three-point plays down the stretch and finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds as the Cavaliers won their 13th straight game, 79-73 on Tuesday night over the Detroit Pistons, who gave the NBA's best team all it could handle.

However, on a night when their shots didn't fall, the Cavs did just enough.

"That's the sign of a good team," James said. "No matter the circumstances, we continue to win. Whatever the game is, tight or a shootout or an offensive struggle or a defensive game, we find a way to win."

The Cavs trailed 69-67 midway through the fourth when James took over, scoring eight points and handing out an assist in a 10-0 run.

With the win, Cleveland improved to 36-1 at home, won the season series from Detroit for the first time in 11 years, and became just the sixth team in NBA history to win 16 games in one month.

"That is amazing," said James, who was reminded the Cavs won just 17 in the season before his arrival. "Ever since the All-Star game we've been really, really focused. That's an unbelievable month for any team."

Richard Hamilton scored 13 and Allen Iverson 11 for the Pistons, who were held to 35 percent shooting and shot off their mouths afterward.

Iverson, who has come off the bench in two games since returning from injury, complained about his playing time.

"I can play 18 minutes with my eyes closed and a 100-pound truck on my back," he said. "I'm wondering what the rush was to get me back. It's a bad time for me mentally. I'm just trying to get through it without starting a whole bunch of nonsense. I'm looking at the big picture, if I vent my frustrations, then it's on.

"Being who I am, fingers are going to be pointed at me. People are going to make a big deal out of it. I'm just trying to laugh as much as I can and stop from crying."

Delonte West scored 12, Anderson Varejao added 11 and several hustle plays, and the Cavaliers held off the Pistons in one of those old-school Eastern Conference street fights.

There were several chippy moments between two teams who have scrapped in the playoffs before and may again soon.

Iverson's layup put Detroit up 69-67 with 5:24 left when James made another of those are-you-kidding-me? plays that gave the Cavaliers the lead for good.

First, he sneaked behind unsuspecting Pistons guard Will Bynum and poked the ball away. He broke down court for a pass, spun in the foul lane and somehow flipped the ball in as he was being fouled by Bynum and stumbling. James completed the three-point play to make it 70-69.

James explained he anticipated a pass going to Iverson, and guessed right.

"I circled behind and I saw the ball sitting up above Bynum's head and I was able to tip it away," James said. "I have no idea how I made that layup. I just threw it up there. I knew where the rim was. I guess it was a good play, huh?"

The Cavs, who held the Pistons to 29 points after halftime, got a stop and James fed Varejao to make it 72-69. Cleveland's defense forced another turnover, and James completed another and-1 opportunity to give the Cavs a 75-69 cushion.

James then deflected a pass that bounced off Tayshaun Prince and out of bounds. Cleveland misfired on its next trip, but Varejao made a steal and West picked up the loose ball and fired it to James, whose layup capped the 10-0 run to put away the Pistons.

For the first time in weeks, the Pistons, who long ruled the Central but are in the No. 7 playoff spot in the East, were finally whole.

With Wallace back after missing 11 games with an injured left calf, Detroit had its first full roster since Feb. 25. Wallace had nine points, nine rebounds, and, of course, a technical - his 16th, which will earn him an automatic one-game suspension by the league. He'll sit out Wednesday's game in New Jersey.

"I don't care," he said. "That (stuff) doesn't faze me. That's what happens when you speak the truth."

On their previous visit to Cleveland, the Pistons were rocked 99-78 in a game that wasn't that close.

In case they didn't recall the drubbing, "Do you remember 67-34 half?" was written on the dry-erase board for the Pistons as they entered the locker room. That was the score at halftime on Feb. 22, when Detroit coach Michael Curry benched his starters early in the second half.

"It was just a reminder," Curry said. "We were embarrassed the last time we played here."

The Pistons were much better, but still not good enough to slow the Cavs.

"We just didn't finish," Iverson said. "We gave it away."


With the Lakers' loss, Cleveland opened a three-game lead for the league's best overall record. ... The last team to win 16 games in a month was San Antonio (16-0) in 1996. ... Cavs C Zydrunas Ilgauskas played in his 700th career game. Only Danny Ferry (723) and Bingo Smith (720) have played in more games for Cleveland. ... The Pistons have beaten all six division leaders - Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, San Antonio, Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers - this season.

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