CLEVELAND, May 19 (Ticker) -- LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers couldn't capitalize on a golden opportunity.

With a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals just one win away, James scored 32 points, but it was not enough as the Detroit Pistons got a few clutch shots from Rasheed Wallace and some big offensive rebounds down the stretch to post an 84-82 victory in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

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The Pistons have been in this spot before, and it showed Friday as they improved to 4-1 in road elimination games since the start of the 2004 postseason. Their only loss in that span was in Game 7 of the 2005 NBA Finals at San Antonio.

"I told our guys today this is a game where both teams feel that it's a must win," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "I didn't know if it was good or bad as far as our guys being very quiet, very focused (before this game). They are definitely sensing a sense of urgency."

Mired in its first three-game losing streak of the season, Detroit is now 9-2 in elimination games over the past three seasons and will look to return to the conference finals when it hosts Game 7 on Sunday.

"We're not OK yet," Detroit guard Chauncey Billups said. "That team beat us on our home court a couple of days ago. We have to play (Sunday) the way we played the last 18 minutes of this game."

"(Detroit) shot the ball better (45.6 percent) and that seemed to help them," Cleveland guard Eric Snow said. "They had more energy."

Wallace has been doing more talking that performing lately but came to play Friday. After collecting a total of 17 points in the previous two games, he scored 24 in this one, and his three-point-play with 3:02 remaining gave Detroit a 79-77 lead.

"You can't be right with (predictions) all of the time, but that's just the confidence level that I have in myself and my teammates," Wallace said. "If I didn't have that confidence I wouldn't talk junk."

On the verge of their first trip to the conference finals in 13 years, the Cavaliers will look back at this one as a missed opportunity, especially with their inability to crash the boards down the stretch. The Pistons had eight offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, including three in the final 48 seconds.

With Detroit leading, 83-81, Wallace missed a 3-pointer with just under a minute to play and Richard Hamilton came up with the loose ball. Wallace then missed a tough jumper from the baseline, but Hamilton again grabbed the rebound and Wallace was fouled with 15 seconds to play.

Wallace, who was just 2-of-7 from the line, missed both free throws. Cleveland guard Ronald Murray was unable to control the rebound and Detroit again came up with the ball. Billups then split a pair from the line to make it 84-81.

"Ben (Wallace) was phenomenal on the offensive glass," Saunders said.

"We just needed to secure a rebound," Snow said. "Those are all energy plays and they were better at it."

James was fouled just before making a pass to Murray in the corner for an open 3-point attempt with 1.4 seconds left. He made the first free throw to make it 84-82 but missed the second intentionally.

"Of course I didn't want the foul, because I got a good pass to Flip (Murray) with 1.4 seconds on the clock," James said. "Being the smart team that they are, they committed the foul. They wanted to give up two points before they gave up three points."

"LeBron did exactly what I told him," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "With one timeout, I just tried to hold onto it and use it after we scored."

Billups came in to help on the boards and nearly tipped the ball in as time expired. But instead, the Cavaliers lost their first playoff game decided by three points or less this postseason (5-1).

"I tried to get a hand on it and just tapped it," Billups said. "The ball bounced around and I almost made the basket for them. It's crazy."

"I'm not sure why we didn't call a timeout (in the final 10 seconds)," James said. "I didn't even know that we had a timeout until after the game."

Hamilton scored 17 points and Billups added 15 for the Pistons, 10 in the fourth quarter.

"I don't think (Cavaliers) were playing really tight or nothing," Rasheed Wallace said. "But I know that the only cat that wanted to shoot (in the fourth quarter) was LeBron, so you take it for what it's worth."

James scored 24 of his points in the second half and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 16 for Cleveland.