AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Super Sunday lived up to its billing for the Cavaliers in Detroit.
Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson took over the game with LeBron James on the bench, combining for 19 fourth-quarter points in rallying Cleveland to a 90-80 win over the Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Gibson scored seven straight points to start the period, then Williams added eight more as part of a 15-2 run that erased a 66-58 deficit and put the Cavaliers in front for good.
The wine and gold avalanche continued when James returned from his five-minute rest, and Cleveland wound up outscoring Detroit 32-14 in the quarter — and winning for the first time in Motown since March 7, 2007.
“There has not been a time this year where I feel like the pressure is all on me, including tonight,” said James, who had 33 points, four rebounds and eight assists. “Gib came out and hit three straight baskets and then Mo came and hit three straight baskets. It was great to see. Those guys basically took control of the game.”
Indeed they did, turning what looked like another disappointing afternoon in Detroit into an impressive road win on national TV.
Williams finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Gibson scored all seven of his points in the final quarter. The offensive-minded guards made eight of nine shots in the fourth, held the Pistons without an assist and did not come off the court.
“We felt like we gave up the game the last time we played here (a 96-89 loss on Nov. 19), so we weren’t going to let that happen today,” Williams said. “In the third quarter, I think we deferred too much to LeBron and guys were passing up shots.
“Gib did a great job coming out in the fourth quarter aggressive. And me, I’m a confident guy. I gotta run the team with LeBron out and I always believe my next shot is going in. If that means I’ll be 3-for-19, I’ll live with that.”
The win allowed the Cavaliers (37-9) to stay 1½ games behind Boston in the race for the best record in the NBA. It also extended their mammoth Central Division lead over the second-place Pistons (25-21) and improved their road record to a solid 15-9.
“This building is one of the toughest to play in and they’ve kind of had our number here,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “With the troubles we’ve had in this building, it was a good win.”
Heading into the fourth, it appeared that Detroit’s new-look lineup would continue its regular-season home dominance over the Cavaliers.
Shooting guard Allen Iverson and power forward Amir Johnson came out of halftime with an edge, collecting 10 and eight third-quarter points, respectively. Iverson completed the strong period for the Pistons with a pair of driving layups to make it 66-58.
That, however, turned out to be the high point of the day for the 259th straight sellout crowd at The Palace, which began filing out midway through the fourth.
“My confidence is at an all-time high, honestly, because I still feel good about the guys I play with and our coaching staff,” said Iverson, who scored a team-high 22 points. “We had a couple of defensive lapses and they took total advantage of it. We weren’t able to recover from that point on.”
Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas joined James and Williams in double-figures with 13 points, while adding eight rebounds. He missed nine of his first 10 shots, but made a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth. Anderson Varejao added one hoop and six boards off the bench, along with five stitches in his lower lip courtesy of an under-the-basket collision.
Richard Hamilton — now serving as Detroit’s sixth man — chipped in 16 points for Detroit, which also got 10 points and nine rebounds from Johnson, six points and eight assists from Rodney Stuckey, and 11 points from Tayshaun Prince.
“The first three quarters, defensively, we had done the job and did exactly what we wanted to do,” Pistons first-year coach Michael Curry said. “Then we got to the fourth, and for whatever reason, we made too many mistakes.”
Contact Brian Dulik at (330) 721-4059 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cavaliers 90, Pistons 80
CLEVELAND (90): James 12-25 6-11 33, B.Wallace 0-0 0-2 0, Ilgauskas 5-16 1-2 13, M.Williams 9-18 4-4 22, Pavlovic 3-7 2-2 9, Varejao 1-1 0-0 2, Szczerbiak 1-1 0-0 2, Gibson 3-5 0-0 7, Hickson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 35-74 13-21 90.
DETROIT (80): Prince 5-11 0-0 11, Johnson 4-7 2-2 10, R.Wallace 4-11 0-0 9, Stuckey 2-9 2-4 6, Iverson 9-19 4-4 22, McDyess 2-6 2-2 6, Hamilton 6-12 4-4 16, Maxiell 0-1 0-2 0, Afflalo 0-0 0-0 0, Bynum 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-76 14-18 80.
Cleveland 16 20 22 32 — 90
Detroit 18 21 27 14 — 80
3-Point Goals—Cleveland 7-15 (James 3-8, Ilgauskas 2-3, Pavlovic 1-1, Gibson 1-2, M.Williams 0-1), Detroit 2-9 (Prince 1-3, R.Wallace 1-4, Hamilton 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Cleveland 51 (Ilgauskas 8), Detroit 44 (Johnson 9). Assists—Cleveland 16 (James 8), Detroit 13 (Stuckey 8). Total Fouls—Cleveland 17, Detroit 18. Technical—Maxiell. A—22,076 (22,076).
WHO: Cleveland vs. Toronto
WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: The Q
TV/RADIO: FS Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM