AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Cleveland Cavaliers finally
showed up in the second round of the NBA playoffs -- seven quarters
Down by 22 points and getting destroyed for the second straight
game by Detroit, the Cavaliers pulled within five late in the
fourth quarter before losing 97-91 to the Pistons on Tuesday night.
The comeback didn't end with a victory, but it may have provided
some needed momentum for the Cavaliers as the best-of-seven series
shifts to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4 beginning on Saturday.
"It showed that we can play with them," Cavs center
Zydrunas Ilgauskas said of Cleveland's second-half comeback fueled by LeBron James, who scored 23 of his 30 points after halftime. "Now, we've
got to play with them for the entire game."
For the first time in the series, it looks as if the Cavaliers
may actually be able to compete with the bigger, badder Pistons,
who were all smiles as they left the court at halftime leading
Detroit didn't show any signs of slipping, as the Pistons were
still up 87-70 on Rasheed Wallace's bucket with 8:30 left. That's
when James began forcing his will on the game, hitting 3-pointers,
passing inside for baskets and showing his brilliance with nearly
every bounce of the ball.
With Detroit ahead by 12, James fed Larry Hughes for a basket,
drained two free throws, followed in a rebound and completed a
three-point play to bring the Cavaliers within 92-87 with 1:13
That's where the comeback ended. But it may also prove to be the
point in the series where the Cavs' confidence returned.
"In the second half, we figured out a level we need to play on
to compete with this team in this building," Cavs coach Mike Brown
said. "We just passed, cut and drove the basketball. And when
somebody drove, we finished."
They couldn't finish their rally, but the Cavaliers came away
feeling better about their chances of pushing this series beyond
"It makes us feel better because we understand what we have to
do," guard Damon Jones said. "We just have to play that way for
48 minutes going into Game 3. We are down 0-2. They did what they
had to do in taking care of home court, and we have to go home and
do the same."
By outscoring the Pistons 31-19 in the fourth quarter, the
Cavaliers went from losing by 27 in Game 1 to just six in Game 2.
A loss is a loss, but in the playoffs sometimes moral victories
count for something.
"I'm proud of what our guys did in the second half," Brown
said. "They didn't hang their heads. We've been like that the
entire year, where we've been knocked down but bounce right back
and keep attacking."