<
>

James drops 30, but Pistons cruise to 2-0 series lead

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- LeBron James almost made the Detroit
Pistons regret getting bored.

James scored 23 of his 30 points in the second half, but Rasheed
Wallace had 29 points and Tayshaun Prince added 20 to lead Detroit
to a 97-91 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night --
and a 2-0 lead in their second-round series.

"We had the game going through three quarters, and we got a
little lax," Detroit's Chauncey Billups said. "We came away from
our defensive scheme, and LeBron started to hurt us."

James didn't reach double figures until midway through the third
quarter, then he led a fourth-quarter rally with jumpers and
driving layups through a sea of Pistons.

Cleveland pulled to 87-78 after a 10-2 run before Ben Wallace
made a fadeaway shot off his own miss and Rasheed Wallace followed
with a 3-pointer, forcing the Cavs to call a timeout down by 14
points with 4:31 left.

James wouldn't let the Cavs go away.

His three-point play made it 92-87 with 1:13 left, but Richard
Hamilton scored a three-point play on the ensuing possession and
both players traded free throws in the final seconds.

"We kept our composure and gave them a run for their money,"
James said.

For three-plus quarters, it didn't look like there was much
James or the Cavs, who advanced in the playoffs for the first time
since 1993, could do against the two-time defending Eastern
Conference champions at either end of the court.

After leading by just two points, Detroit took control of Game 2
-- and perhaps the best-of-seven series -- with a 13-0 run late in
the first quarter and early in the second. The burst grew to 19-3
and the Pistons led by 18 before the Cavs ended a field-goal
drought that lasted more than seven minutes.

"Our guys have the ability to lock down," Detroit coach Flip
Saunders said. "As a coach, you hate the term 'Flip the switch,'
but there's no question they have the ability to do that."

The Pistons were coasting until the Cavs suddenly showed signs
of life midway through the fourth quarter.

The Cavs -- who lost Sunday by 27 points in a game that wasn't as
close as the score indicated -- will have plenty of time to search
for a solution to turn the series around because Game 3 isn't until
Saturday in Cleveland.

Cavs coach Mike Brown was so desperate late in the first half
Tuesday that he resorted to a hack-a-Ben strategy, having his
players intentionally foul Ben Wallace late in the first half. The
tactic backfired, perhaps because Brown might've sent his players a
message that they couldn't slow the Pistons down any other way.

When Brown instructed his players to foul Wallace, Detroit was
ahead by 16. After Wallace went 2-of-4 from the line and Rasheed
Wallace made a 3-pointer off the glass, the Cavs were trailing by
21.

"I've seen it before, but not in the first half," Billups
said. "I was shocked. We were pretty much like, 'Wow, they showed
their trump card.' But when you're a coach, especially a young
coach, and you're playing a veteran group like ours, after a tough
Game 1, you can get a little desperate.

"He was just trying to help his team out, and it didn't work."

Brown acknowledged that he didn't like telling his player to put
Wallace on the line.

"But I didn't want to use all of my timeouts, and I wanted to
stop the bleeding," he said.

Hamilton finished with 17 points, Billups had 15 points and
seven assists, and Ben Wallace added 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Cleveland's Drew Gooden had 17 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored
10 and reserve Anderson Varejao also added 10.

Game notes
Ben Wallace was presented with the NBA's Defensive Player
of the Year award -- for an unprecedented fourth time in five
seasons -- by Boston Celtics great Bill Russell before the game. ...
Cavs reserve Donyell Marshall was upset that his comments before
Game 1 were interpreted as if he was giving up in the series.
"Detroit has the knowledge from winning a championship two years
ago, and going to the championship last year. I think their
knowledge is going to overtake our youth right now," he said
Monday. ... James had six points in the first quarter, one in the
second, nine in the third and 14 in the final quarter.