Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 12/31

Game 1: Saturday, December 31st
Game 2: Sunday, February 26th
Game 3: Monday, February 27th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 12th

Cavaliers 78

(32-24, 12-16 away)

Pistons 90

(46-9, 26-2 home)

12:00 PM ET, February 26, 2006

The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 17 16 19 2678
DET 25 19 23 2390

Top Performers

Cle: L. James 22 Pts, 9 Reb, 7 Ast

Det: B. Wallace 11 Pts, 19 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 Stl, 5 Blk

Pistons never trail after halftime in dispatching Cavs

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Ben Wallace doesn't get MVP consideration or hit dramatic shots like his All-Star teammates.

But none of the Detroit Pistons have any doubt about which player is at the heart of their 46-9 start.

Sunday, Wallace had 11 points and 19 rebounds as the Pistons beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 90-78.

"They might as well take the Defensive Player of the Year award and send it to Ben," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "He's been on a mission in the last three weeks, and when you look at all of the things he's doing -- rebounding, blocking shots and making steals -- he's been phenomenal."

Detroit never trailed, and led by at least 10 points for most of the second half. The teams play again Monday night in Cleveland.

"They did a great job taking us out of our offense," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "There is no way you can win on the road with 20 turnovers, especially against a team like this."

The Pistons have won five straight overall and 12 in a row at the Palace, while Cleveland lost its third in a row to fall 14½ games behind Detroit in the Central Division.

Billups led the Pistons with 21 points while Richard Hamilton added 18 and Rasheed Wallace had 15.

LeBron James had 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Cavaliers and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 15 points and nine rebounds.

James got kicked in the shin late in the third quarter, causing a noticeable limp, but he wasn't worried about the injury.

"I'm going to ice it down and be ready for tomorrow," he said.

Ilgauskas missed most of the first quarter after needing five stitches to close a head wound caused by Rasheed Wallace's elbow. Ilgauskas felt Wallace was getting revenge for an incident moments earlier.

"I think he was frustrated because I caught him first with an elbow and then he hit me back," he said. "Mine wasn't intentional. His, I haven't seen the replay."

Wallace, who was called for a flagrant foul, hit Ilgauskas in the top of the head as the Lithuanian drove for a layup.

"I'm not going to start the game by cracking a cat in the skull if I don't get elbowed first," he said.

Both teams struggled offensively in the first half -- Cleveland shot 33 percent from the floor and the Pistons missed 10 of 11 3-point attempts -- but Billups and Hamilton combined for 24 points to put Detroit up 44-33.

The Pistons expanded their lead to 56-37 on a Tayshaun Prince 3-pointer early in the third, and led 67-52 by the end of the quarter.

Saunders has been trying to get Ben Wallace more touches on the offensive end. The results have been mixed -- he shot airballs on two mid-range jumpers Sunday -- but it has been important to Wallace.

"I at least want to make the other guys guard me," he said. "I know that when I'm getting involved on offense, it gives me more confidence and energy."

Wallace's efforts don't go unnoticed by the opposition, either.

"Ben is quick, athletic, strong, tenacious and hungry -- the whole nine yards," Brown said. "He makes it tough because you are afraid to drive the basketball when you know he's back there."< ^NOTES@: Prince and both head coaches picked up first-half technical fouls for arguing calls. ... Pistons rookie Alex Acker scored his first career points on a basket in the last minute of the game. ... Detroit announced after the game that rookie Amir Johnson would report to the NBDL on Monday. ... Cleveland's three-game losing streak is its longest since a six-game slide in late January.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press