The Detroit Pistons have had a couple of tough games since returning from the All-Star break. They now get to face one of the eight teams to beat them this season when they begin a home-and-home series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Detroit returned from the break with an easy 97-87 win over Atlanta on Tuesday, but had trouble defeating Indiana 88-83 on Thursday. The Pistons played again on Friday and came away with a 95-87 victory over Chicago in a game that featured seven technical fouls.
Detroit’s Richard Hamilton scored 14 points before being ejected for picking up his second technical midway through the fourth quarter, and Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and coach Flip Saunders also collected technicals.
Chauncey Billups had 17 points to lead the Pistons, but it was the play of reserves Antonio McDyess and Maurice Evans that was the difference in the game. McDyess tied his season-high with 16 points on 8-for-10 shooting, while Evans added 15.
“It was one of those situations because of foul trouble, the technicals … it gave our bench a chance to play a little more,” Evans said. “We were able to contribute and that’s what the key is if we’re going to be the type of championship team that everyone thinks we are.”
Cleveland has won five of the last eight meetings with Detroit, including a 97-84 victory at home on Dec. 31. LeBron James had a game-high 30 points in that contest, and is averaging 22.9 points in nine career appearances against the Pistons.
James scored 25 points to lead the Cavs on Friday night, but missed all eight of his shots in the second half of a 102-94 loss at home to the Washington Wizards. He was also just 8-for-19 from the foul line as Cleveland suffered its second straight defeat after winning three in a row.
James came into the game averaging 35.8 points and 52.0 percent shooting in his previous five contests.
“I put all the blame on myself,” he said. “It was a bad performance by me, simple as that.”
James was booed in the final minutes, and said he “of course” heard them, adding, “If these fans want to boo me, it’s on them.”
James will get a chance to get back on the good side of Cleveland’s fans when these teams conclude the home-and-home set on Monday.