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Billups has big fourth quarter as Pistons rout Cavaliers

Dec 22, 2006 - 6:23 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Once again, Chauncey Billups and the Detroit Pistons showed their experience when it mattered most.

Billups scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and added 10 assists as the red-hot Pistons used a decisive late-game run to post an 87-71 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers for their fifth win in their last six contests.

Tayshaun Prince had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Pistons, who were playing the Cavaliers for the first time since their seven-game victory in last season's Eastern Conference semifinals.

Cleveland, which entered the contest 11-2 at home, was playing its second game in as many nights.

"We were fortunate. We got them on a back-to-back," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "It's tough to play back-to-back, especially when the other team is waiting for you at home."

Despite Wednesday's 113-111 loss to New Jersey, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown was disappointed his team did not carry their energy over from that game.

"We score 111 (Wednesday). We scored 71 (Thursday)," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "(Wednesday) it was our defense. (Thursday) it was our offense. So, I'm concerned about both ends of the floor. We have to somehow, some way, mentally get tougher when the going gets tough." Known for his propensity to nail big shots and raise his game during crunch time, Billups turned it on in the fourth quarter, shooting 3-of-4 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line. The veteran guard was 1-of-9 entering the final period.

"The fourth quarter it's an entirely new game for me," Billups said. "I was aggressive and the shots went for me. Everybody played well in the fourth quarter."

Leading by two points with 6:05 left in the third quarter, Detroit outscored the Cavaliers, 35-17, over the next 16 1/2 minutes to take an 87-67 lead with 1:25 left. The Pistons held Cleveland to 3-of-22 shooting during that span.

Prince was 8-of-11 from the floor for Detroit, which shot 44 percent (35-of-80).

LeBron James had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who shot just 34 percent (27-of-79) and 2-of-11 from the arc.

Cleveland, which entered the game 1 1/2 games behind the Pistons in the Central Division, missed a chance to pull closer.

"(Detroit is) still a good team. They're still a powerhouse," James said. "They're still No. 1 in the Eastern Conference. We just have to get better. I don't know when it's going to happen. We can't keep going out there and doing the same thing."

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