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Cleveland at Detroit

Cavs lose to Pistons, clinch playoff spot with Nets' loss

CBSSports.com wire reports

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- 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.

"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."


  • 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 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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The Cavs may have clinched a playoff spot, but they lose Big Ben to another back injury.  (Getty Images)
The Cavs may have clinched a playoff spot, but they lose Big Ben to another back injury. (Getty Images)
Cleveland (40-33) 1815172171
Detroit (52-21) «2920231385
CLE:L. James 13 Pts
CLE:A. Varejao 9 Reb
CLE:D. Jones 6 Ast
DET:R. Hamilton 14 Pts
DET:A. McDyess 10 Reb
DET:T. Prince 5 Ast
Players of the Game

A. McDyess

L. James

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L. James, SF354-174-645013
Z. Ilgauskas, C285-161-250111
B. Wallace, C203-30-05016
S. Pavlovic, SG202-81-20106
D. West, SGDid Not Play
D. Jones, PG301-40-03622
A. Varejao, C261-21-29233
W. Szczerbiak, SF213-92-24108
D. Brown, SG204-83-302311
D. Gibson, PG180-21-20131
J. Smith, PF144-42-250110
D. Jones, PF80-10-02110
E. Snow, PGDid Not Play
L. Allred, CDid Not Play
Totals 27-7415-2137191571
T. Prince, SF355-122-275212
R. Hamilton, SG323-128-831214
R. Wallace, PF263-82-27009
C. Billups, PG256-101-124013
A. McDyess, PF226-80-0102412
R. Stuckey, SG232-31-21205
J. Maxiell, PF226-81-230413
T. Ratliff, C191-20-02212
A. Afflalo, SG160-31-22011
A. Johnson, SF70-00-03010
W. Herrmann, SF70-62-22112
J. Hayes, SF51-10-01032
L. Hunter, SGDid Not Play
J. Dixon, SGDid Not Play
C. Samb, CDid Not Play
Totals 33-7318-2143171985
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NJ 104
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