Detroit wins series 4-3 (Game 5 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

Cavaliers 86

(50-32, 19-22 away)

Pistons 84

(64-18, 37-4 home)

7:00 PM ET, May 17, 2006

The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 20 30 18 1886
DET 20 25 21 1884

Top Performers

Cle: L. James 32 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Det: T. Prince 21 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Blk

LeBron and Co. put Pistons in 3-2 hole

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- All series long, the Detroit Pistons huffed and puffed. On Wednesday night, it was LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers who blew their house in.

A stunning role reversal on the Cavs' fairy tale ride?

Maybe not.

Daily Dime
The mighty Detroit Pistons are on the brink of going home for the summer, and all of their swagger, overconfidence and nonchalance has suddenly turned into fear, tightness and despair.

To read more of Chris Sheridan's analysis in the Wednesday night Daily Dime, click here.

"It's just basketball," James said. "They're not the Big, Bad Wolf. And we're not the Three Little Pigs."

The Pistons, on the brink of elimination after two straight trips to the NBA Finals, have not been giving much respect to the Cavs, who are in the second round for the first time since 1993.

That should change now, but will it be too late for the big, bad Pistons?

Game 6 in the best-of-seven series is Friday night in Cleveland, and if the Pistons force a Game 7, they will be back on their home court Sunday.

"LeBron is playing unbelievably, and they're playing with a lot of confidence," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "But it doesn't mean the series is over, we just have to revert to what we did for much of the season."

Ben Wallace blew a chance to give the Pistons the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter when he missed two free throws with 40 seconds left. That left one of the NBA's worst free-throw shooters 0-for-7 for the game, which remained tied at 84.

James deferred to Gooden on the ensuing possession, and the power forward came through with a low-post basket to put the Cavs ahead by two with 27 seconds left.

"I took a picture of the basket," Gooden said. "That's what my freshman coach in high school used to tell me, take my time and make the shot."

After a timeout, Donyell Marshall blocked Tayshaun Prince's shot in the lane and James tipped a rebound -- off Lindsey Hunter's missed jumper -- to teammate Eric Snow, who tossed the ball down the court to kill time.

The Pistons had the ball back with 1.9 seconds left, but could not get a shot off to try to force overtime -- or win the game they didn't seem to deserve.

"That was about as perfect a game of basketball as you can play against that team," Marshall said.

Cleveland beat Detroit 74-72 and 86-77 to even the series after being routed in Game 1 and losing Game 2 by six points after a big early deficit.

After losing Game 3 in Cleveland, Rasheed Wallace guaranteed Game 4 would be the last game played there because the Pistons would close out the series in Game 5.


"Everybody wrote us off, but we started to get some confidence in the second half of Game 2 and we've just kept it going," Cavs reserve Damon Jones said.

Detroit hopes to draw from its postseason experience. Before the Pistons beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals, they fell behind New Jersey 3-2 -- with three straight losses -- before winning on the road and at home to advance to the conference finals.

"I'm still not concerned because I know what we're capable of," Chauncey Billups said. "We've been there before.

"We can't be looking for a Game 7 because if you're not careful, there won't be (a Game 7)."

James played like a star -- again -- in his first postseason appearance, and many of his teammates chipped in throughout Game 5.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 14 before fouling out, Marshall had 14 points and 13 rebounds off the bench and three other players added at least six points apiece.

Prince scored 21, Billups had 17 before fouling out, Richard Hamilton scored 15, Rasheed Wallace added 10 while battling foul trouble and reserve Antonio McDyess chipped in with 11 points.

The Cavs went ahead 63-53 midway through the third quarter on James' 3, leaving Prince holding his jaw. Then, the Pistons punched back, perhaps fearing elimination for the first time in the series.

A 13-3 run tied the game before Cleveland went back ahead 68-66.

The Cavs scored the first six points of the fourth, the last point coming on a free throw when Rasheed Wallace was called for a technical after his fifth foul.

McDyess -- who was held to six total points in Games 3-4 in Cleveland -- made three straight shots to tie the game at 77 with 5:10 left.

After the score was knotted again, Jones was fouled as he made a 3-point shot, but he missed the ensuing free throw, then had a shot blocked, leading to Billups' layup that made it 82-81.

McDyess sat on the bench for several minutes following the game -- putting his hands behind his head, staring across the court in disbelief.

The Pistons began the playoffs as the favorites to win it all after falling just short of repeating as champions last year in Game 7 at San Antonio.

The first quarter Wednesday ended 20-all, the fifth tie of the game after 10 lead changes.

Cleveland went ahead on Marshall's 3-pointer with 8:57 left in the first half, and the Pistons didn't have the lead the rest of the game.

The Cavs led 50-45 at halftime.

Ilgauskas gave James plenty of support in the first half. He had nine points -- surpassing his point totals from the previous two games -- and seven rebounds along with four blocks, which tied a Cleveland playoff record for blocked shots in a half. Ilgauskas finished with six blocks, tying a franchise postseason record.

While the Cavs were warming up at halftime with a 50-45 lead, James leaned against the scorer's table checking out the box score.

He had to like what he saw.

The 21-year-old phenom scored 22 first-half points on 9-of-17 shooting; Ilgauskas was off to a strong start; and the Cavs' reserves were outscoring Detroit's 17-2.

For the third straight game, the Cavs were without starting shooting guard Larry Hughes, who has been with his family since the death of his 20-year-old brother. The entire team attended Justin Hughes' funeral in St. Louis on Tuesday, the morning after winning Game 4, then flew to suburban Detroit without a practice between games. Cavs general manager Danny Ferry said there was still no timetable for Hughes to return.

Game notes

James led the league in votes for the All-NBA team, and he called it the best achievement of his career. ... The Pistons had two All-NBA players for the first time in franchise history, with Billups and Ben Wallace earning spots on the second team. ... Saunders was called for a technical midway through the fourth, screaming for a foul to be called against James.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 86 84
FGM-FGA 31-81 (.383) 32-75 (.427)
3PM-3PA 5-13 (.385) 2-10 (.200)
FTM-FTA 19-26 (.731) 18-28 (.643)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 19-44 16-47
Assists 15 16
Turnovers 12 17
Steals 9 4
Blocks 10 8
Fast Break Points 7 6
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (1/0) 21 (2/0)
Largest Lead 10 3

Top Performers

LeBron James James
Points: 32
Reb: 5
Ast: 5
Stl: 2
Blk: 1
Tayshaun Prince Prince
Points: 21
Reb: 8
Ast: 2
Stl: 0
Blk: 2