James, Nance power Cavs past Pistons
Nance, who arrived in Cleveland in a February 8 trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, started at center in place of Tristan Thompson, who sprained an ankle against Denver on March 3.
He and James combined to score Cleveland’s first 20 points, and their combined 34 points in the first half helped stake the Cavs to a 54-49 halftime lead.
Cleveland kept the pressure on in the third quarter, out-scoring Detroit 36-21. That included 13 points from James in less than five minutes to open the second half.
He departed after three quarters having handed out seven assists and seven rebounds.
Nance pulled down 15 rebounds and helped limit Pistons center Andre Drummond to 15 points.
“It just kind of felt easy,” Nance said. “The guys were giving me all the opportunity in the world to make my shots, and I just happened to be making them.”
Blake Griffin led Detroit with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but the Pistons dropped their third straight and have now lost nine of their last 11.
They are ninth in the Eastern Conference, five games out of playoff position with the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks in seventh and eighth.
The Heat closed out a 4-1 homestand on March 5 with a 125-103 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Center Hassan Whiteside scored 24 points with 14 rebounds in three quarters and point guard Goran Dragic added 17 points for a Heat team that saw seven players score in double figures.
The Bucks dropped to eighth in the East with a 92-89 loss to the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.
Bojan Bogdanovic equalled a career high with 29 points and came up with a crucial jump ball in the waning seconds as the Pacers thwarted the Bucks’ comeback bid.
The Pacers trailed the Bucks by two at halftime, but Bogdanovic scored 11 points in a third quarter as Indiana took a 92-89 lead.