for this game

James, Cavaliers beat down Pistons

Mar 20, 2008 - 4:13 AM By Jeff Brewer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- LeBron James will have to wait one more game to become the Cleveland Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer. He'll have to settle for a win instead.

Needing 35 points to break Brad Daugherty's franchise record of 10,389, James finished with 30 as the Cavaliers whipped the listless Detroit Pistons, 89-73, for their eighth straight home win on Wednesday night.

"We took more than one step forward tonight," James said. "We took five steps, especially on the defensive end."

"The King" has led the Cavaliers in scoring 18 straight games and now has tallied at least 20 points in 46 straight games.

One night removed from beating the Denver Nuggets, 136-120, the Central Division-leading Pistons shot 40 percent from the floor and never made a run in the fourth quarter.

Detroit fell behind by double digits for good with 5:46 to play.

"I don't think defense was our problem," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "Offense was our problem."

The Pistons lost for just the second time in seven games and were making their first trip to Cleveland since losing the Eastern Conference championship here last season.

"All of my buddies around here, and the fans, they love beating Detroit," said Cavaliers guard Wally Szczerbiak, who played collegiately for Miami (Ohio). "It's definitely a big-time rivalry. Basketball, the way it's played here in the Ohio-Michigan area, this where I played college ball, it's all about playing defense.

"This is like beating (Ohio University). The Miami-OU rivalry."

The game also featured former Piston Ben Wallace, who played six seasons for Detroit and was the team's central defender during a championship season in 2004.

"One thing I can tell you about those guys, they're not worried about this game going down the stretch," Wallace said. "When the time comes, we'll have to beat them again. They are not worried about this game."

The Pistons crushed the Cavaliers, 109-74, on November 28 when James suffered a left index finger sprain and missed five games. The Cavaliers lost all five and have been trying to dig out of that hole ever since.

Detroit missed its final eight shots of the second quarter and went from being ahead by five to trailing, 45-38, at the half.

"Anytime we shoot seven free throws for the game, we can't win like that," Detroit guard Chauncey Billups said. "It wasn't the refs not calling, the cause was us just shooting jump shots and not being aggressive. That's the bottom line."

At 6:01 of the third quarter, Billups fed Tayshaun Prince for a fast-break layup en route to a 51-50 lead for the Pistons.

The Cavaliers responded with a 7-0 run and led 63-57 heading to the fourth quarter.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, in his third game back since missing seven in a row with a back strain, collected 20 points and eight rebounds for the Cavs.

"We have to concentrate on ourselves," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "We have to keep getting better, so when it's 'money time,' we're ready to rock and roll."

Rasheed Wallace scored 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting for Detroit.

"We shot well in the first quarter, and it went downhill from there," Wallace said.