Cleveland (35-25) at Detroit (37-21)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Auburn Hills, MI
Temp: 60° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Wed Mar 7, 2007
  • TV: NBATV, WMYD
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Coming off their worst home loss in more than two years, the Detroit Pistons look to regroup and extend their division lead when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

The matchup is crucial for the Pistons, who leave on a season-high five-game road trip, all against Western Conference opponents, following Wednesday’s contest. Detroit leads Cleveland by three games in the Central Division and Eastern Conference, but is coming off a 111-93 loss to Golden State on Monday.

The defeat was the worst for the Pistons (37-21) at the Palace since a 101-79 loss to Memphis on Jan. 6, 2005. Detroit led by seven points late in the first half before Golden State took control, becoming the first opponent to score 100 points against Detroit since Feb. 6.

The Warriors also handed the Pistons their biggest loss of the season, 111-79 on Nov. 11 in Oakland.

“They play up and down and we can’t control their shots,” Pistons center Jason Maxiell said. “It’s just one game right now. We have a road trip coming up and we know that on the road we have to take care of business.”

Before that trip begins, though, Detroit has to get past the Cavaliers, something that hasn’t been much of a problem in the regular season. The Pistons have won the last five meetings, including two this season, both in Cleveland. Detroit is 23-5 at home against the Cavs since 1992-93.

Cleveland put up a bigger fight in last season’s playoffs, taking the Pistons to seven games before losing in the conference semifinals.

Detroit hopes Richard Hamilton can have a better game Wednesday than he did against the Warriors. Hamilton went 2-of-4 from the field and scored only six points, his first time under 10 points this season.

“It says a lot when Rip only takes four shots in 27 minutes,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “I’ve seen him take four shots in two minutes and seven seconds before, but in 27?”

Hamilton has scored only 21 points combined in the two wins over Cleveland this season, but Detroit won both of those games by double-digit margins.

The Cavaliers (35-25) have won three of their past four, with LeBron James scoring at least 30 points in each contest. Cleveland beat Houston 91-85 on Monday night despite the return of Rockets center Yao Ming from a broken leg.

James had 32 points and added 12 rebounds and eight assists, while Larry Hughes had 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Cleveland, which improved to 16-5 when Hughes scores at least 20.

“They were terrific,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said of James and Hughes. “I’m not talking about the points, because they both have shown they have the ability to score. In those two categories (rebounds and assists), to get those types of numbers and that production from those two guys is very good.”

Since the All-Star break, James is averaging 32.7 points on 52 percent shooting. He’s averaged only 23.1 points on 40 percent shooting in 14 regular season games against Detroit.

Hughes has averaged 18.0 points since the All-Star break, becoming the complement to James that Cleveland expected when it signed him away from Washington before last season. He’s played more at point guard lately with Daniel Gibson out with a sprained toe.

“He looks comfortable, obviously,” James said. “If he keeps playing the way he is playing now, we might have to keep him in there. He’s been more comfortable at point guard these last few games than he’s been for a year and a half now.”

Cleveland has lost four of its past six on the road.

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Wednesday, Mar 7