Cavaliers-Pistons Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 16, 2012
While the Cleveland Cavaliers have said they believe Kyrie Irving will play before the season ends, it won't be against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night. Irving, the league's potential Rookie of the Year, has missed the last eight games with a sprained right shoulder. While the Cavaliers have seven games left and are playing mostly for pride, coach Byron Scott said Irving wouldn't be shut down, although he ruled him out for Tuesday. Scott said there's "a chance that Kyrie doesn't come back this season, but I think there is a better chance that he plays." Cleveland (20-39) fell to 4-9 this season without the star point guard after a 100-84 loss to Orlando on Sunday - its third game in three nights. Looking fatigued, the Cavaliers committed 18 turnovers and shot 37.3 percent. They were held to 30 points in the first half. "Everyone's body feels beat up and is tired from the season, but it's about mind over body," forward Antawn Jamison said. "We have to challenge ourselves and mentally try to push through these last couple of games." Jamison, who got the night off Saturday, finished with 21 points but shot 5 of 13 and had four turnovers. Cleveland also is unsure if Anderson Varejao (wrist) will return this season, having been sidelined since Feb. 10. Daniel Gibson (foot), meanwhile, has missed the last 16 games. Injuries seem to be wearing down Cleveland, which has lost three of four. It's averaging 90.8 points and 18.0 turnovers in that span. Detroit (22-38) also is coming off a tough stretch, losing five of six with each defeat coming to an Eastern Conference playoff contender. The Pistons couldn't protect a six-point fourth-quarter lead against league-best Chicago on Sunday, losing 100-94 in overtime. Rodney Stuckey missed two critical free throws late in regulation before Derrick Rose hit a tying 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds remaining. Despite the loss, it was much more competitive than Detroit's previous three defeats - to Milwaukee, Orlando and Miami by an average of 23.0 points. "We did everything we needed to win the game other than actually winning the game," coach Lawrence Frank said. "We made a ton of winning plays, but in this league it is all or nothing, and at the end, the outcome is a loss." Stuckey finished with 32 points after playing limited minutes in the previous three games due to a knee problem. Charlie Villanueva added a season-high 13 off the bench after previously appearing in just six games due to injuries. Stuckey left in the first quarter of the most recent matchup with the Cavaliers due to a hamstring injury, but the Pistons won 87-75 on March 28 behind Tayshaun Prince's 29 points. He totaled 17 in the first two meetings, and Detroit lost both. Pistons rookie Brandon Knight has played well in the season series, averaging 21.0 points and 4.7 assists. Knight is averaging 12.8 points overall but has scored 19.7 per game in the last three.
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