Cavaliers 85, Pistons 82
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—A Cleveland Cavaliers player put together an impressive performance on the day he was not chosen to play in the All-Star game.
It wasn’t LeBron James.
“Absolutely Carlos Boozer should’ve been picked,” Cleveland coach Paul Silas said. “He’s an elite power forward in the Eastern Conference.”
Hours after finding out he was passed over for the All-Star game, James was 5-of-19 for 12 points. The sensational rookie, coming off a career-high 38-point game, was not among the seven Eastern Conference reserves announced Tuesday.
“I know I can help the team without scoring,” said James, who also had six assists, only one turnover, and four rebounds.
Boozer made two free throws with 8.9 seconds left, after grabbing an offensive rebound off one of James’ many missed shots, to give Cleveland the lead for good.
“Sure, I wanted to be an All-Star, but I’m more excited about the roll we’re on as a team,” Boozer said.
During the past eight games, Boozer is averaging 22.2 and 14.4 rebounds.
James shrugged off being snubbed from the All-Star game, but said Boozer definitely should’ve been picked.
“He’s the best forward in the conference and one of the best in the league,” James said. “All I know is that I want him as my power forward until I retire.”
Chauncey Billups, who missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer, had 19 points for the Pistons.
“We had it in our hands and just dropped it,” Billups said.
The Pistons had won four straight by a total of eight points, and five straight at home against Cleveland.
Detroit fought back from a 15-point, first-quarter deficit to take the lead in the third quarter.
However, they missed 13 straight shots and their four-point lead turned into a 77-71 deficit midway through the fourth quarter.
Hamilton drove past James for a layup to put the Pistons ahead 80-79 with 2:49 left.
Cleveland went back ahead with 1:37 remaining when Elden Campbell was called for goaltending on Boozer’s layup.
“I thought Elden made a great block,” Billups said. “That was a huge play.”
Hamilton’s runner tied the game at 82 with 31.5 seconds left.
With a chance to tie the game, Billups missed a mid-range jumper with a few seconds left. DeSagana Diop missed one of two free throws with 2.2 seconds left, leaving the Pistons with a chance to force overtime, but Billups missed a 3-pointer over McInnis.
The Pistons missed center Mehmet Okur, who did not play because of back spasms. Okur was replaced in the starting lineup by Campbell, who scored 10 points.
The Cavaliers finished the first quarter with a 32-20 lead—the largest deficit Detroit has had after the first this season.
“We had a terrible first quarter, but our bench brought us back,” Pistonscoach Larry Brown said. “Then at the end, we couldn’t secure rebounds.”
Cleveland activated rookie guard Jason Kapono before the game, and placed forward Tony Battie on the injured list with a bruised left knee. … Ivan Rodriguez, the newest Detroit Tiger, was given a rousing, standing ovationwhen he was introduced to the crowd during a first-quarter timeout.