Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/24

Game 1: Wednesday, November 24th
Game 2: Thursday, December 16th
Game 3: Tuesday, March 22nd
Game 4: Sunday, April 17th

Cavaliers 87

(40-40, 12-28 away)

Pistons 90

(53-27, 32-9 home)

1:00 PM ET, April 17, 2005

The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 23 29 13 2287
DET 23 17 25 2590

Top Performers

Cle: L. James 37 Pts, 11 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Blk

Det: T. Prince 15 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

LeBron had 37 in the defeat

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- LeBron James walked off the court bare-chested and beaten after his chances of playing in the playoffs took another hit.

The Detroit Pistons used a balanced attack in a 90-87 win over the slumping Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, overcoming James' 37 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

Cleveland has lost three straight and six of eight, and is in danger of finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference, behind New Jersey and Philadelphia. The Cavaliers (40-40) need to finish with a better record than the Nets (40-40) or the 76ers (41-39) to reach the postseason because Cleveland lost the season series to both teams.

"Everybody knows that this was a costly loss," James said. "We played well in the first half. We gave ourselves a good chance to win. That has just been our luck this year. We have been in plenty of close games, we just cannot finish them out."

The Cavaliers needed a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime, but James shot an airball over Tayshaun Prince from above the key just before the buzzer. James then took off his jersey and went to the locker room.

With a chance to tie it at 89, Prince blocked James' shot from the baseline with about 20 seconds left.

"They always have defended me well," James said. "Tayshaun does a great job."

Prince's defense against Kobe Bryant last year helped Detroit beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, and he has also made stars such as Tracy McGrady look ordinary.

Prince said the time and score gave him an advantage during the final sequence.

"The tough thing for him is, he knows he needs a 3," Prince said. "The easy thing for me is to make him drive. If it was a two-point game, it's a different story."

Cleveland has two games left in the regular season: at home against Boston on Tuesday and at Toronto on Wednesday, needing to win both to improve its postseason chances.

Cavaliers coach Brendan Malone seems to be drawing inspiration from Boston's win over the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League championship series.

"The Red Sox were down 3-0, and look what they did," Malone said. "We aren't going to give up now. No one is giving us a chance, but I kind of like that feeling."

Richard Hamilton scored 19 points -- despite getting five stitches above his left eye late in the third quarter -- to help the Pistons extend their season-high winning streak to 10 games. Rasheed Wallace left the game in the first quarter with an injured left hamstring, but his teammates made up for his absence.

Chauncey Billups scored 17, Prince had 15, Ben Wallace added 11 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks while reserve Antonio McDyess filled in for Rasheed Wallace with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

The Cavaliers scored 29 points in the second quarter to take a 52-40 lead at halftime, but the Pistons scored the first 10 points in the third and built a six-point lead midway through the fourth.

"Getting down the way we did and coming back, I couldn't be happier," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "I'm proud that we competed because Philadelphia and New Jersey were affected by this game."

With the Central Division and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference locked up, Detroit goes on the road against the worst two teams in the league -- Atlanta and Charlotte -- to wrap up the regular season.

Ira Newble scored 19 points for Cleveland, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 12 points and 17 rebounds. Other than those two, James didn't get much help.

The second-year star, who missed the playoffs as a rookie, had a spectacular first half with 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting, five assists and no turnovers. He was lackluster after the break.

James was just 2-for-12 in the third quarter, then made some solid plays early in the fourth before faltering in the final minutes. He finished 12-of-35.

With his performance, James ensured he would become the fifth player in the league to average 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson and John Havlicek also did it.

James was shaken up midway through the second quarter when he collided in the lane with teammate Anderson Varejao, who was pushed by Detroit's Elden Campbell.

"My knee tightened up a little bit, but it never really affected me," James said. "I was fine."

Game notes

Rasheed Wallace had two points and a block in five minutes before injuring his hamstring. "I didn't want it to get worse," he said. ... Hamilton was out late in the third and early in the fourth after being fouled across the face by Ilgauskas. ... James averaged 35 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists in his five previous games. ... The Pistons finished 32-9 at home, the second-best record in team history. ... The Cavaliers fell to 12-28 on the road and 0-8 against the Central Division. ... Cleveland's Drew Gooden was limited to 14 minutes because of a bruised hip. He was scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting and had three rebounds.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 87 90
FGM-FGA 33-89 (.371) 37-79 (.468)
3PM-3PA 6-15 (.400) 4-6 (.667)
FTM-FTA 15-22 (.682) 12-23 (.522)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 19-45 14-49
Assists 16 25
Turnovers 8 9
Steals 5 4
Blocks 6 9
Fast Break Points 17 21
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 19 (6/0)
Largest Lead 12 7

Top Performers

LeBron James James
Points: 37
Reb: 11
Ast: 6
Stl: 0
Blk: 1
Tayshaun Prince Prince
Points: 15
Reb: 5
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 2