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Futile Cavs, Pistons clash at The Palace

What means more in the NBA, ping pong balls or staying out of last place?

You're likely to find out all you need to know about the league's mindset on that when the Detroit Pistons host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.

The Central rivals are at the bottom of the division with the Cavs 1 1/2 games behind the Pistons as we head into the final 10 days of the regular season.

Although the bragging rights of finishing outside the cellar would be nice, the reality of the NBA says that the Cavaliers would just as soon take another lottery ball or two in an effort to steal the No. 1 overall pick, which figures to be Kentucky big man Anthony Davis, for a second straight season.

Cleveland has dropped three of four overall with the latest setback coming Sunday in the Forest City when Jameer Nelson led four Orlando teammates in double-figures with 21 points and nine assists as the Magic rolled to a 100-84 victory, clinching a playoff spot in the process.

Antawn Jamison led the way for the Cavs with 21 points and Donald Sloan donated a career-high 15 points for Cleveland, which is a dismal 7-21 since the All-Star break. Manny Harris and Alonzo Gee had 10 points each in defeat.

Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving, last year's No. 1 overall pick and the likely Rookie of the Year, missed his eighth straight game with an injured shoulder and is not expected to suit up in the near future. Irving is averaging 18.8 points and 5.7 assists.

The Pistons, meanwhile, lost to the kings of the Central on Sunday when Derrick Rose scored a team-high 24 points and handed out nine assists, as the Chicago Bulls used a dominant overtime period to down Detroit, 100-94, at The Palace.

Rodney Stuckey paced all scorers with 32 points for the Pistons. Charlie Villanueva had a season-high 13 before being ejected for a flagrant-2 foul on Rose late in the fourth quarter.

"I was a little surprised because I went for the ball," Villanueva said. "It wasn't like I was trying to hit him on purpose or do anything dirty. I went for the ball and they called a flagrant foul."

Cleveland has won two of three from Detroit this season and 11 of 14 overall in the series.