Pistons pad conference lead with victory over Cavaliers

Associated Press • Apr 9, 2007 at 12:33 PM

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Richard Hamilton scored 21 points and Chauncey Billups had 14 points and 12 assists, directing a balanced attack that gave the Detroit Pistons an 87-82 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.

The Pistons have won four of five to maintain their cushion over Chicago and Cleveland - which has lost seven of 12 - for the best record in the conference.

Starting for just the third time this season, Antonio McDyess had 18 points, a season-high 13 rebounds and three blocks.

Unlike in the previous meeting, the Pistons kept LeBron James in check. He had 20 points on 5-of-16 shooting, six assists, five turnovers and five rebounds.

"We know he can beat us," Billups said. "We want to make them beat us."

James scored a season-high 41 on March 7, lifting Cleveland to a 101-97 overtime victory at The Palace.

MIAMI - Gerald Wallace scored 30 points, Walter Herrmann hit two big 3-pointers in the final minute and Charlotte spoiled Dwyane Wade's first game back after missing 6½ weeks with a dislocated left shoulder.

Wade played 27 minutes, scoring 12 points on 3-for-9 shooting from the field and 6-for-12 from the foul line - part of the Heat's costly effort from the stripe. Miami was 26-of-44 from the line and that, combined with a season-high 26 turnovers, dealt the Heat's chances of earning home-court advantage for the first playoff round a serious blow.

Raymond Felton had 16 points, Hermann had 15, and Emeka Okafor and Brevin Knight each scored 13 for the Bobcats. Jake Voskuhl added 12 for Charlotte, which was without rookie forward Adam Morrison, who missed his first game of the season with a sprained left knee tendon.

Alonzo Mourning led Miami with 20 points on 9-for-10 shooting, part of the Heat's 59-24 edge in bench scoring. Jason Kapono had 19 points, Shaquille O'Neal scored 15 and Eddie Jones added 10 for Miami.

LOS ANGELES - Steve Nash had 25 points and 11 assists for his career-best 50th double-double, and Phoenix beat the Lakers to move 2½ games ahead of San Antonio for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

Leandro Barbosa scored 23 points, Raja Bell added 22, Amare Stoudemire had 19 points and nine rebounds, and Shawn Marion added 12 points for Phoenix (58-19), which won for the fifth time in its past six games. The Suns clinched their third straight Pacific Division championship March 20.

Kobe Bryant had 34 points and seven assists and Smush Parker added 25 points and six assists before fouling out for the Lakers (40-37), who lost for the fifth time in seven games and fell into seventh place in the West - a half-game behind Denver. The teams meet tonight in Denver.

TORONTO - Anthony Parker scored a career-high 27 points and Chris Bosh had 22 points and 11 rebounds, leading Toronto over Chicago.

Joey Graham added 19 points for the Raptors, who clinched their first Atlantic Division title last Friday and their first playoff spot in five years last month.

Toronto has won eight out of 10 to move within 1½ games of Chicago and Cleveland for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

Ben Gordon had 27 points for the Bulls, who lost for the second time in eight games. Andres Nocioni returned to Chicago's lineup after missing 28 games with plantar fasciitis. He had three points in eight minutes.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Tracy McGrady had 40 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in his return from a back injury, and Houston made a late surge to snap a three-game losing streak.

Yao Ming scored 18 points, while Luther Head had 18 and broke a fourth-quarter tie with back-to-back 3-pointers that began a decisive 11-2 run.

Houston swept its three- game season series with the Kings, including two victories at Arco Arena, despite failing to make a field goal in the final 4:42.

Houston pulled within a half-game of the Utah Jazz for the Western Conference's fourth-best record.

Kevin Martin scored 24 points and Francisco Garcia had 16 for the Kings, who lost for the eighth time in 10 games to practically guarantee the end of their eight-year streak of playoff appearances.

PHILADELPHIA - Andre Iguodala scored 25 points and Philadelphia rallied from a 17-point third-quarter deficit to beat Atlanta.

Willie Green's 3-pointer on the 76ers' first possession of the extra period keyed a 7-0 run that gave Philadelphia the lead for good. Samuel Dalembert finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Sixers, while Green scored 14 points and Rodney Carney added 13.

Tyronn Lue scored 24 points to lead Atlanta (28-49). Marvin Williams added 21 but missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 8.6 seconds left.

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