LeBron sits as Pistons beat Cavaliers in playoff non-preview
CLEVELAND (AP) Kyrie Irving slid a chair in front of the large flat screen TV in Cleveland's locker room so he could get a closer look at Kobe Bryant's farewell.
When Bryant knocked down a couple jumpers, Irving jumped from his seat and screamed.
He was a cheerleader all night.
LeBron James wore a black blazer and watched from the bench with Irving and every starter for Cleveland and Detroit rested for their first-round playoff matchup as Jodie Meeks scored 20 points to lead the Pistons to a 112-110 overtime win against the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
James rushed onto the court to celebrate when Jordan McRae's 3-pointer tied it 103-all and forced OT. But Meeks, who played just 17 minutes all season because of a foot injury, scored four in the extra session. McRae scored 36 and had a chance to tie it in the final second, but battling leg cramps, he missed two free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer.
The only starter to take the floor was Cleveland center Tristan Thompson, but he committed a foul after the jump ball and was replaced after four seconds to extend his consecutive games played streak to 370 - a franchise record and the league's longest current run.
The Pistons and Cavaliers will play Game 1 this weekend.
This was anything but a playoff preview.
The top-seeded Cavs weren't going to risk any injuries and coach Tyronn Lue made the decision to sit James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith for the home finale. Irving, though, wanted to play and there was uncertainty - and drama - about his status up until an hour before tip-off.
Irving said he met with Lue and general manager David Griffin before the trio agreed that the star guard should dress but not play.
''He's trying to get this rhythm, I just thought this wasn't a good game to try,'' Lue said. ''He had a great game last game. It's just too risky, if you're feeling good, your body is great, why risk it? Why chance it? It wasn't a smart move to me. You always want to give the player the benefit of the doubt for wanting to play because you get paid to play, but in this situation, I didn't think it was smart.''
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy reluctantly sat his starters after learning Lue's plan.
Detroit finished 44-38, improving 12 wins over last season.
''It's a big improvement,'' Van Gundy said. ''We broke the longest streak in the Eastern Conference in missing the playoffs. We had seven straight losing seasons and then to get to 44. So there were a lot of good things and a lot of progress.''
Van Gundy had hoped to give his starting five another night to together to develop more rhythm before the eighth-seeded Pistons take on the Cavs, who are favored to return to the Finals for the second year in a row.
Detroit won two of three against Cleveland this season, but Van Gundy dismissed those victories because Irving missed one game and both squads were playing on the second night of back-to-backs in the other.
''It's not enough of a sample size to say, `Wow why did you have so much success?''' he said. ''We won two out of three. It's not like we won 20 out of 30.''
Pistons starting point guard Reggie Jackson missed his second straight game with a strained abdominal muscle, but the team's leading scorer is confident he'll play in Game 1.
''I feel better,'' he said. ''I didn't get a chance to do much, but I'm very optimistic I'll be ready.''
Pistons: Made the playoffs for the first time since 2008-09, when they were swept in the opening round by Cleveland. ... Van Gundy was reminded that he coached Lue in Orlando. ''I already know I'm old,'' Van Gundy cracked. ''I don't need to see Ty down there on the sidelines to know I'm old. Every day there's something that comes up.''
Cavaliers: James finished the season averaging 25.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists in a career-low 35.6 minutes. ... With G Iman Shumpert not at 100 percent after having his left knee drained earlier this week, the team signed G Dahntay Jones, an 11-year veteran and defensive stopper who has played in 49 playoff games. ... G Mo Williams returned after going to New York to get another medical opinion on his injured left knee. The team did not provide any additional information on Williams. ... James Jones was given the ''Austin Carr Good Guy'' award for his cooperation with Cleveland's media.
Game 1 at Cleveland on either Saturday or Sunday.