Hamilton scored a career-high 44 points, and James was held to a season-low six points in the Detroit Pistons’ 92-88 win over Cleveland on Friday night.
James, the No. 1 pick in the draft, was limited to 2-of-8 shooting. He did have seven assists, but had trouble guarding Hamilton in the first quarter when the shooting guard scored 14.
“He was on fire,” James said. “When you’re on fire, it doesn’t matter who you put on him. He was unguardable.
“He’s one of the most underrated players in the league.”
Hamilton, who surpassed his career-high of 41 points, scored 12 points in the final four minutes to seal the win. He was 15-of-23 from the field and 13-of-15 at the line.
“I might of scored 69 when I was 13-, 14-years-old, but since junior high, this is my career-high,” Hamilton said with a grin.
The Pistons have won six of eight.
Ricky Davis scored 25 points, after being benched by Cleveland coach Paul Silas in the Cavaliers’ previous game for unspecified reasons.
The Cavaliers, who are 0-10 on the road this season, have not won away from home since Jan. 12 when they beat Seattle. The NBA record is 43 consecutive road losses set by Sacramento from 1990-92.
“Guys aren’t thinking about that,” Davis said. “But maybe we should start thinking about it. Maybe that would help us. It’s not a good streak to be on.”
Leading by five with 5:09 left, Cleveland had a shot to snap the streak.
But the Pistons scored 10 straight points to regain control of the game.
Detroit did not trail until Chris Mihm’s dunk, off James’ pass, gave the Cavaliers a 73-71 lead early in the fourth quarter. The basket capped a 14-2 run.
Tayshaun Prince’s tip-in put the Pistons up 80-79 with 2:33 left, and they made the shots and stops needed for the win.
“We never panic,” Hamilton said.
James was averaging a team-high 17.3 points. His previous low was seven points in a loss against Denver on Nov. 5.
“I didn’t take enough shots,” James said.
Hamilton was able to run the rookie off screens or beat him off the dribble during the first quarter before Cleveland took James off the five-year veteran. Nobody else had much success.
Detroit’s Elden Campbell scored a season-high 13 points, and Prince made a career-high seven assists and scored 12 points. Chauncey Billups, the Pistons’ leading scorer, had just eight points on 3-of-16 shooting.
The Pistons, who led by as much as 11 in the first half, were ahead by 10 with 3:50 left in the third before Cleveland made its comeback.
Michael Stewart, who came off the injured list Wednesday, started after playing just nine minutes in two games this season. Ira Newble, who wassuspended for one game for arguing with Silas, also played.
Detroit’s Darko Milicic, who was taken right after James, did not play for the 10th time in 17 games. The Pistons did not plan to play the 18-year-old center much this season because of their talented team and his inexperience. … Cleveland’s Carlos Boozer missed his fourth straight game with a sprainedright ankle, but said he would be ready to play “in a couple days.”