Detroit wins series 4-3 (Game 3 of 7)

Detroit wins series 4-3

Game 1: Sunday, May 7th
Game 2: Tuesday, May 9th
Game 3: Saturday, May 13th
Game 4: Monday, May 15th
Game 5: Wednesday, May 17th
Game 6: Friday, May 19th
Game 7: Sunday, May 21st

Pistons 77

(64-18, 27-14 away)

Cavaliers 86

(50-32, 31-10 home)

Coverage: FSOH

5:00 PM ET, May 13, 2006

Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

1 2 3 4 T
DET 17 25 14 2177
CLE 18 18 17 3386

Top Performers

Detroit: R. Hamilton 22 Pts, 2 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl

Cleveland: L. James 21 Pts, 10 Reb, 10 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

LeBron's triple-double gives Cavs life against Pistons

CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James lifted the young boy, kissed his head and pulled the tiny child close. Cradling the 1-year-old in his rippling arms, Cleveland's star carried his son off the court.

It was LeBron Jr.'s turn for a ride.

Daddy already gave one to the Cavaliers.

James scored 15 points in the fourth quarter and posted the second triple-double of his first visit to the NBA playoffs, leading Cleveland to an 86-77 win over Detroit on Saturday that cut the Pistons' lead to 2-1 in their second-round series.

Getting his only rest at halftime, James finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and four steals for the Cavaliers, who played with more confidence than in Games 1 and 2 and ensured they will play at least two more games this season.

"Lo and behold he gets a triple-double in a second-round playoff game against possibly the best team in the league," said Cavs coach Mike Brown, marveling at James' latest feat. "I say it all the time -- he's special."

Anderson Varejao, Cleveland's mop-haired forward, added a career-high 16 points and Flip Murray, starting in place of Larry Hughes, had 13 for the Cavaliers, who went 11-of-15 from the floor (73 percent) and 9-of-9 from the line in the fourth.

Cleveland can even up the best-of-seven series at home in Game 4 on Monday.

"We knew we couldn't lose Game 3 at home," James said. "That would have dug us too big of a hole to get out of. We took care of home. But we don't want to feel too good about ourselves about this. We just have to protect home."

Rasheed Wallace warned the Cavaliers not to feel too giddy.

"They did what they were supposed to do," he said. "We are still going to win this series. We're not going to let one game discourage us."

The Cavaliers won without Hughes, who was with his grieving family in St. Louis following the unexpected death of his 20-year-old brother, Justin.

Richard Hamilton scored 22 points, Chauncey Billups 20 and Ben Wallace had 13 rebounds for the Pistons, who shot only 39 percent from the floor after blistering the nets in opening a 2-0 lead.

Detroit also had 16 turnovers, twice as many as in Game 2.

"We turned the ball over too much, making plays that we don't usually make," Billups said. "We got into the tempo that we wanted it in. We knew they wanted to run. We kept them from that. And they guarded. They grinded. You've got to give them credit."

Even if the Cavaliers don't rally to dethrone the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions, James and his teammates have made their first visit to the postseason since 1998 a memorable one.

The 21-year-old James can take a bow for that, saving his best when it mattered most and carrying the Cavs down the stretch.

"That's what he does," Billups said. "He's a great player, a phenomenal athlete. He does things that most guys can't do. He put his team on his back and willed himself to some great plays."

Stealing one of Hall of Famer George Gervin's signature moves, James hit an 11-foot finger roll as the Cavaliers, who trailed by 10 points in the third, took their first lead of the fourth at 66-64.

Later, he drove for a layup to put Cleveland ahead 74-70 with 2:44 left. Coming out of a timeout, James grabbed Cavs guard Damon Jones near the scorer's table and told him, "Let's win a game. C'mon."

The Cavaliers followed him.

James made a steal on Detroit's next possession and hit two free throws to make it 76-70 with 2:20 left. The Pistons, though, closed within 78-74 on two foul shots by Rasheed Wallace with 1:32 remaining before James came up with the game's biggest play -- and another monumental shot of his blossoming career.

On the right wing with the shot clock running down, James stepped back and drilled a 3-pointer -- the Cavs were 1-of-12 on 3s at the time -- over a closing Tayshaun Prince to make it 81-74 with 1:10 to go.

The bucket rocked sold-out Quicken Loans Arena, which had been roaring with every head fake, rebound and pass James made in the final period.

James then completed his triple-double by getting his 10th assist on a feed to Jones, whose 3-pointer from the corner made it 84-74 with 40 seconds to go.

When the Pistons finally succumbed in the final seconds, Cavaliers fans rejoiced after witnessing another dazzling performance by James, who knew it was up to him to get his team back into the series.

"I had to step up," he said. "It wasn't by scoring. I didn't have one of my big offensive nights that I can have. I got a lot of defensive rebounds and got some key steals and gave ourselves an opportunity to win."

Game notes

James is the first player to get two triple-doubles in the playoffs since Tim Duncan in 2003. ... A moment of silence was observed before the game for Justin Hughes, who had a heart transplant in 1997. He will be buried Tuesday. ... The Pistons have lost 10 of their last 11 Game 3s on the road in the playoffs. ... Jones wore one of Hughes' No. 32 wristbands on his biceps and another on his calf to honor his absent teammate. ... During a pregame interview, James mentioned "my wife." So has there been a royal wedding? "No," James said with a laugh. "Wife, girlfriend, you know. If she's living with you, she's your wife." James lives with his girlfriend, Savannah, and the couple's son. ... Pistons coach Flip Saunders, who grew up in the Cleveland area, was excited about being home. "I don't know if I've been home for Mother's Day in 20-some years," said Saunders, whose mother, Kay, is a lifelong Cavs fan. "That will be special."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 77 86
FGM-FGA 28-71 (.394) 34-68 (.500)
3PM-3PA 7-18 (.389) 3-14 (.214)
FTM-FTA 14-16 (.875) 15-16 (.938)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-37 9-37
Assists 21 21
Turnovers 17 13
Steals 8 8
Blocks 2 4
Fast Break Points 14 10
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/0) 17 (1/0)
Largest Lead 10 10

Top Performers

Richard Hamilton Hamilton
Points: 22
Reb: 2
Ast: 5
Stl: 2
Blk: 0
LeBron James James
Points: 21
Reb: 10
Ast: 10
Stl: 4
Blk: 1