for this game

Iverson sparks rally as Pistons bottle up Cavaliers

Nov 20, 2008 - 4:44 AM By Chuck Klonke PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- The Detroit Pistons' experience was too much for the Cleveland Cavaliers down the stretch.

Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace, with a combined 25 years of NBA experience, teamed up for 33 second-half points Wednesday to lead the Pistons to a 96-89 victory, snapping the Cavaliers' eight-game winning streak.

After the Cavs were in control over the first three quarters, they had no answer for the Pistons' running game in the final frame - as Iverson made clear exactly why Detroit brought him in two weeks ago by spearheading a huge fourth quarter.

The All-Star guard did what he does best - pushing the ball to the hoop and pulling defenders inside - to open things up for Detroit's offense. He and new backcourt mate Rodney Stuckey orchestrated a 15-4 run midway through the fourth to pull away.

"I was penetrating and getting into the paint and the guys would basically stand out," Iverson said. "They weren't converging on me and I was able to get a couple of easy, short jumpers in the lane. That's how I'll continue to play. I'll stay aggressive and keep driving the basketball."

Iverson buried back-to-back runners to pull the Pistons even at 76-76, then found Wallace on the wing for a 3-pointer that gave Detroit the lead for good.

One possession later, Wallace connected from the arc again and Iverson added two more driving layups - including a three-point play - to help put the game away.

"They brought us to a complete standstill," Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown said. "That's the first time I've seen us that discombobulated all year. Sheed's threes were huge and so were A.I.'s drives. It seemed like every time they made a play, it deflated us a little more. It wasn't getting us going. We lost that bunker mentality."

The 33-year-old finished with 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting and added four assists and four steals, while Stuckey came up with three huge buckets in the game's waning minutes to keep the Cavaliers at bay.

Wallace said that Iverson's penetration opened things up for him.

"That's basketball," he said. "They can't stop the outside shots no matter if it's myself or (Rodney Stuckey) or Arron (Afflalo). They can't stop the penetration and the shots from outside."

Wallace finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit, overshadowing LeBron James' modest 25-point, six-rebound, six-assist effort.

"It wasn't the best I can play," James said. "That happens in this league - you have good games and bad games."

The defeat ended Cleveland's longest winning streak since the 1997-98 team ran off 10 in a row. Meanwhile, Detroit won for the fourth time in five games after losing both of Iverson's first two appearances in a Pistons uniform.

"They played a great second half and we didn't respond," Brown said. "It was like a bunch of their players got together at halftime and said, 'Let's bear down and take this game away from the Cavaliers,' and that's just what they did."

Cleveland outscored Detroit, 12-2, from the free-throw line in the first half as the Cavaliers built a 49-38 halftime lead. Williams led Cleveland with 12 points in the half, while James had 10 to offset a 13-point half by Detroit's Richard Hamilton.

Wallace scored the first six points of the game, but the Cavaliers answered with a 17-6 run.

"The first half, we couldn't get anything going offensively, but we stayed in the game because we held them to 14 points in the paint in the first half and 22 in the game," Detroit coach Michael Curry said. "That was our emphasis. We wanted to do that and outrebound those guys."

Cleveland led until a 3-point basket by Afflalo tied the game at 66-66 with 47.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Iverson, playing his second home game since being acquired from Denver earlier this month, led the Pistons' third-period comeback with nine points.

Detroit trailed, 68-66, after three quarters, but the Pistons went ahead for the first time since early in the game on a pair of free throws by Wallace with 10:38 remaining in the fourth.

Mo Williams scored a season-high 25 points for the Cavaliers, who failed to reach 90 points for the first time since their season-opening, 90-85 loss to the Boston Celtics.

Cleveland played without swingman Wally Szczerbiak, who was not with the team because of personal reasons.

The Pistons shot 51 percent (38-of-75) from the field, 5-of-12 (42 percent) from the arc and 15-of-18 (83 percent) from the foul line.

It was the second time in less than a week that the Pistons cooled off one of the NBA's hottest teams. Detroit handed the Los Angeles Lakers their first defeat last Friday.

"It's early, but it's exciting," Iverson said. "It builds confidence. When you beat teams like that, it measures the type of team that you are. We haven't had a lot of time to practice, so that gives us the feeling that we can only get better. Once we're together more, we can find a rhythm and the offense will flow like it did in the fourth quarter."

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