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Iverson, Wallace help Pistons cool off Cavaliers

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons are starting to show their potential with Allen Iverson, beating two of the NBA's best teams in less than a week.

Iverson scored 23 points and Rasheed Wallace had 10 of his 21 points during a fourth-quarter surge that gave Detroit a 96-89 victory over Cleveland on Wednesday night that ended the Cavaliers' eight-game winning streak.

Detroit handed the Los Angeles Lakers their only defeat, beating them by double digits Friday night on the road.

"It's early, but it's exciting," Iverson said.

Wallace wouldn't go that far.

"It's not like we set out and said, 'Oh, these are the NBA's hottest teams.' We're just trying to make ourselves better," said Wallace, who had a season-high 15 rebounds. "We really don't care about what the other teams are doing at that moment.

"We just want to make ourselves better for June," he said.

If the Pistons can keep playing tough defense against stars, as they did against LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, they'll improve their chances in the playoffs.

James was 8-of-21 and missed all four of his 3-point attempts but made enough free throws to finish with 25 points to fall just five below his league-leading average.

"That happens in this league," he said. "You have good games and bad games."

Bryant missed 18-of-30 shots last week against the Pistons.

The Cavs are a half-game ahead of the Pistons in the Central Division.

Detroit lost its first two games after acquiring Iverson from Denver on Nov. 3 but has won four of its last five.

"It's way too early to know anything about them," James said.

It looked as if the Cavs were going to beat the Pistons the first time they saw them with Iverson, going on a 21-6 run to take the lead in the first quarter and taking 13-point leads in both the second and third.

But Wallace gave the Pistons the lead for good midway through the fourth with a pair of 3-pointers in a 36-second span and made another long jumper to give them a 95-82 lead with 2½ minutes left.

"Sheed hit those long 3s and AI did a great job of getting to the hole," James said. "They really turned it up in the second half, and it caught us off guard."

His coach agreed.

"They played a great second half and we didn't respond," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "It was like a bunch of their players got together at halftime and said, 'Let's bear down and take this game away from the Cavaliers,' and that's just what they did. They brought us to a complete standstill.

"That's the first time I've seen us that discombobulated all year," Brown said.

Detroit's Richard Hamilton scored 15 points, and reserve Rodney Stuckey and Tayshaun Prince each added nine points. Cleveland's Mo Williams scored 25 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 13 points and Delonte West added 11.

Game notes
The Cavs put Wally Szczerbiak on the inactive list, excusing him to address a personal matter, and activated Darnell Jackson. Brown said he didn't know when Szczerbiak will return. ... The Central Division rivals don't meet again until Feb. 1 at The Palace. ... Ilgauskas made the seventh 3-pointer of his career and attempted two from beyond the arc in one game for the first time in his 11-season career. "I've hit two already this season, so I went for another one," he said. "I'll probably never take two in the same game again." ... Kid Rock sat in the front row at The Palace, which had numerous patches of empty seats in the upper level in another sign of the Motor City's economic woes. ... Former Piston Ben Wallace said he was surprised Chauncey Billups was dealt to Denver. "I guess that's the end of the era now," he said. "It isn't the same team now."