AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- A Cleveland Cavaliers player put
together an impressive performance on the day he was not chosen to
play in the All-Star game.
It wasn't LeBron James.
"Absolutely Carlos Boozer should've been picked," Cleveland
coach Paul Silas said. "He's an elite power forward in the Eastern
Hours after finding out he was passed over for the All-Star
game, James was 5-of-19 for 12 points. The sensational rookie,
coming off a career-high 38-point game, was not among the seven
Eastern Conference reserves announced Tuesday.
"I know I can help the team without scoring," said James, who
also had six assists, only one turnover, and four rebounds.
Boozer made two free throws with 8.9 seconds left, after
grabbing an offensive rebound off one of James' many missed shots,
to give Cleveland the lead for good.
"Sure, I wanted to be an All-Star, but I'm more excited about
the roll we're on as a team," Boozer said.
During the past eight games, Boozer is averaging 22.2 and 14.4
James shrugged off being snubbed from the All-Star game, but
said Boozer definitely should've been picked.
"He's the best forward in the conference and one of the best in
the league," James said. "All I know is that I want him as my
power forward until I retire."
Chauncey Billups, who missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer,
had 19 points for the Pistons.
"We had it in our hands and just dropped it," Billups said.
The Pistons had won four straight by a total of eight points,
and five straight at home against Cleveland.
Detroit fought back from a 15-point, first-quarter deficit to
take the lead in the third quarter.
However, they missed 13 straight shots and their four-point lead
turned into a 77-71 deficit midway through the fourth quarter.
Hamilton drove past James for a layup to put the Pistons ahead
80-79 with 2:49 left.
Cleveland went back ahead with 1:37 remaining when Elden
Campbell was called for goaltending on Boozer's layup.
"I thought Elden made a great block," Billups said. "That was
a huge play."
Hamilton's runner tied the game at 82 with 31.5 seconds left.
With a chance to tie the game, Billups missed a mid-range jumper
with a few seconds left. DeSagana Diop missed one of two free
throws with 2.2 seconds left, leaving the Pistons with a chance to
force overtime, but Billups missed a 3-pointer over McInnis.
The Pistons missed center Mehmet Okur, who did not play because
of back spasms. Okur was replaced in the starting lineup by
Campbell, who scored 10 points.
The Cavaliers finished the first quarter with a 32-20 lead -- the
largest deficit Detroit has had after the first this season.
"We had a terrible first quarter, but our bench brought us
back," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "Then at the end, we
couldn't secure rebounds."
Cleveland activated rookie guard Jason Kapono before the
game, and placed forward Tony Battie on the injured list with a
bruised left knee. ... Ivan Rodriguez, the newest Detroit Tiger,
was given a rousing, standing ovation when he was introduced to the
crowd during a first-quarter timeout.