for this game

Pistons beat Cavaliers in season finale

Apr 17, 2008 - 3:25 AM By Jeff Brewer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND (Ticker) - With LeBron James watching in street clothes, the Detroit Pistons defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 84-74, in the final regular-season game for both teams on Wednesday night.

James, coping with back spasms since April 3, sat out along with starting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas for Cavaliers, who will host the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs for a third straight season.

"I think our team has a chance to be better in the postseason than in the regular season," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.

The Cavaliers are just 14-13 since Ben Wallace, Delonte West, Joe Smith and Wally Szczerbiak were added following a blockbuster three-team, 11-player trade on February 21.

"Our mentality has to be that it's us against the world," Smith said. "We don't have time for excuses now," Cavs swingman Devin Brown said.

The Pistons will host the Philadelphia 76ers in Game One of their first-round series on Sunday.

Detroit started its usual lineup of Tayshaun Prince, Antonio McDyess, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups. They played just one quarter and shot a combined 5-of-20 from the floor as Cleveland built a 21-13 lead.

"Our idea after we saw they weren't going to play LeBron or (Ilgauskas) was to play our starters the first quarter and then rest them," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "Both teams accomplished what they needed to accomplish - they came out pretty healthy."

In what amounted to a reserves' scrimmage, Detroit took its first lead at 56-55 on a three-point play by rookie Arron Afflalo at the 1:33 mark in the third quarter.

Cleveland rallied back in front, but Jason Maxiell hit a jumper with 5:50 left to give the Pistons the lead for good at 67-66. Both teams then emptied their benches.

Detroit captured the season series, 3-1, after the Cavaliers won the Eastern Conference finals in six games a season ago.

"Great regular season, job well done," Billups said. "We got home court (for the playoffs), established our bench, and our young guys were able to get a lot of experience.

"We know what it's like to lose (in the playoffs) and how we've lost the last two years. Hopefully we don't have that feeling again. I think more than anything, the way we lost the last couple of postseasons, it makes you really appreciate what we have."

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