Final

Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/28

Game 1: Wednesday, November 28th
Cavaliers74Final
Pistons109
Game 2: Wednesday, March 19th
Pistons73Final
Cavaliers89
Game 3: Saturday, March 29th
Cavaliers71Final
Pistons85
Game 4: Wednesday, April 16th
Pistons84Final
Cavaliers74

Cavaliers 71

(40-33, 16-22 away)

Pistons 85

(52-21, 30-6 home)

    Coverage: NBATV

    7:30 PM ET, March 29, 2008

    The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

    1 2 3 4 T
    CLE 18 15 17 2171
    DET 29 20 23 1385

    Top Performers

    Cle: J. Smith 10 Pts, 5 Reb

    Det: A. McDyess 12 Pts, 10 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

    With Nets loss, Cavs clinch playoff spot despite loss to Pistons

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Although the Cleveland Cavaliers clinched a spot in the playoffs Saturday night, LeBron James wasn't in the mood to celebrate.

    In fact, the superstar acknowledged being concerned because his team is banged up with just nine games left in the regular season.

    Richard Hamilton returned to Detroit's lineup and scored 14 points, leading the Pistons to an 85-71 win over the injury-riddled Cavs.

    Tale of the Rivalry

    So LeBron James goes, so do the Cavs. The Pistons know far too well about that trend. Here's a look at how James performs against rival Detroit:
    In Wins
    In Losses
    Games712
    PPG29.719.5
    FG pct.49.435.7
    3-pt. pct.38.520.0
    RPG5.75.8
    APG6.75.2

    "It's been really frustrating," James said. "Our team is based on consistency and trying to get momentum and it's hard to do that when you have guys coming in and coming out.

    "We know it's part of the game, but it's happening to us at the wrong part of the season."

    The Cavs locked up a spot in the postseason because New Jersey lost at home to Phoenix.

    Ben Wallace, in his first game at The Palace since joining the Cavs, was back on the court after missing two-plus games with back spasms. But he didn't last long, needing help to go to the locker room early in the third quarter after his back injury flared up.

    "You want to get better and it's tough when you can't practice much," said James, who had a lackluster night with 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting with five assists and five turnovers.

    Daniel Gibson was healthy enough to play for the first time since Feb. 20, when he sprained his left ankle. He scored only one point in 18 minutes. The Cavs chose to rest guard Delonte West, who has been slowed by left ankle tendinitis.

    "I thought I could go to [West], but as the game went on, I decided there was no reason to risk it," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "We already had one guy [Gibson] limping out there."

    Hamilton had missed three games with a sore hip, but came back to play in part because the Cavs routed Detroit 89-73 at home two weeks ago.

    "It was a game that I didn't want to miss," said Hamilton, who said his hip was still hurting. "I could have easily sat out. But it was one of those games that since how they beat us in Cleveland, you want to play. I just tried to step up to the challenge."

    Hamilton led the defensive effort against James, but had plenty of help.

    "He's a very good on-the-ball defender and he has a lot of good off-the-ball defenders," James said. "When he's guarding me, he's not guarding me 1-on-1."

    Chauncey Billups and reserve Jason Maxiell each scored 13 while Tayshaun Prince and Antonio McDyess had 12 points apiece for the Pistons, who have won three of four.

    "I thought we played more with a purpose, what we were trying to do offensively," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "We weren't as stagnant. So that was as positive as anything."

    The Pistons were pretty good on defense, too, coming within a point of holding Cleveland to its season low.

    After missing his first eight shots, Cleveland's Zydrunas Ilgauskas finished with 11 points. Reserve Devin Brown scored 11 points and Joe Smith, who was acquired last month from Chicago along with Wallace, had 10 points off the bench.

    "They dominated us defensively," James said.

    Detroit took control in the opening minutes -- going ahead 6-0 while Cleveland missed its first four shots -- and the Cavs didn't seem to put up much of a fight. The Pistons led 29-18 after the first quarter, 49-33 at halftime and 72-50 after the third.

    "They were very physical from the tip and had us on our heels from the beginning," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "We got going a couple times, but you can't play in spurts against that team."

    Game notes


    Cleveland has lost six straight and eight of nine on the road. ... Former Detroit GM Jack McCloskey, who put together the Bad Boys teams that won titles in 1989 and '90, was honored at halftime by having a banner with his name raised to the rafters. ... James said he wasn't surprised to get booed at Ford Field the previous night while watching Davidson beat Wisconsin. "I just gave everyone a wave," he said. ... James and Brown were called for technicals in the second quarter, arguing with officials about a call that wasn't made against Rasheed Wallace, who hacked James, and later told Pistons radio analyst Rick Mahorn that he did foul him.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

    SPONSORED HEADLINES

    Team Stat Comparison

     
    CLE
    DET
    Points 71 85
    FGM-FGA 27-74 (.365) 33-73 (.452)
    3PM-3PA 2-10 (.200) 1-12 (.083)
    FTM-FTA 15-21 (.714) 18-21 (.857)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-21 6-17
    Assists 19 17
    Turnovers 12 11
    Steals 6 8
    Blocks 4 10
    Fast Break Points 3 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 15 (2/0) 19 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 25

    Top Performers

    Cleveland
    Detroit
    Joe Smith Smith
    Points: 10
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Antonio McDyess McDyess
    Points: 12
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0