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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cavs beat Pistons to claim season sweep

CLEVELAND (AP) The Central Division championship banner was hung in an empty arena Sunday morning with no announcement and no celebration.

Later that night, the Cleveland Cavaliers methodically picked apart the Detroit Pistons 104-79 for their league-best seventh straight win and 13th in their past 14 games.

The NBA's top team continues to quietly cruise toward the playoffs and could get even more good news with the return of fan favorite Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The first day he is eligible to re-sign with Cleveland is Monday.

"He's a good friend of mine and a great teammate," LeBron James said. "If that's the case of him coming back . . . I'm excited."

James had 15 points and seven assists and sat out the fourth quarter. Instead, Cleveland's role players were plenty powerful to handle the Pistons.

J.J. Hickson and Anthony Parker combined for 20 points in the decisive third quarter, Leon Powe doubled his previous season high with 16 points and the Cavaliers handled the Pistons in the second half. Hickson finished with 13 points and eight rebounds while Parker had 11 points, including nine in the third quarter.

Cleveland swept the season series from Detroit for the first time in 30 years. Counting last season's first-round sweep in the playoffs, the Cavaliers have won 11 straight in a series Detroit once dominated.

"We turned the corner when we beat them in the Eastern Conference finals (in 2007)," James said. "To sweep any team that used to dominate us in the past is not only a tribute to us getting better, but ownership, front office and the coaching staff all trying to get better."

Jason Maxiell had 16 points for Detroit and Charlie Villanueva had 11 off the bench, but the Pistons were buried early and couldn't recover.

Cleveland outrebounded Detroit in the first half 23-11. The Cavaliers had 11 offensive rebounds in the half.

Hawks 119, Spurs 114 (OT)

In Atlanta, Marvin Williams scored 26 points to lead three scorers with 20 or more as the Hawks beat San Antonio in overtime to clinch a playoff berth.

Atlanta got its first win over the Spurs in five years.

Lakers 99, Wizards 92

In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 24 points during a dynamic second quarter as the Lakers sent Washington to its 11th straight loss.

Suns 93, Trail Blazers 87

In Phoenix, Jared Dudley scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, and Grant Hill hit two key baskets in the Suns' fourth straight win.

Pacers 121, Thunder 101

In Indianapolis, Danny Granger scored 32 points to help Indiana beat Oklahoma City.

Troy Murphy had 22 points and 13 rebounds and Roy Hibbert had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who have won three of four.

Kings 102, Clippers 89

In Los Angeles, Carl Landry scored 24 points and Beno Udrih had 20 points and a career-high 17 assists, leading short-handed Sacramento over the Clippers.

Rockets 116, Knicks 112

In New York, Aaron Brooks scored seven straight points down the stretch and Houston got strong efforts from the players it got for Tracy McGrady to beat the Knicks.

Kevin Martin, acquired by the Rockets from Sacramento in the three-team deal that sent McGrady to New York, led Houston with 28 points.

Rookie Jordan Hill and Jared Jeffries, who went from the Knicks to the Rockets, played key roles down the stretch because of injuries and illnesses to Houston's frontcourt. Hill scored a season-high 13 points.

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