James, Cavaliers edge Pistons in Game 4
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) – LeBron James overcame a poor shooting
performance to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a hard-fought 74-72 win over
the Detroit Pistons in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal set at
Quicken Loans Arena.
James was just 8-for-23 from the floor and 5-of-10 from the line but nearly
compiled his second straight triple-double with 22 points, eight rebounds and
nine assists for the Cavaliers, who evened the series at two with Game 5
scheduled for Wednesday in Detroit.
“It wasn’t one of our prettiest offensive nights,” said James. “I certainly
didn’t have a great game but we did enough down the stretch to win the game.”
Eric Snow chipped in with 12 points, while Anderson Varejao had 10 for
Richard Hamilton netted a game-high 30 points for the Pistons, who lost their
second straight contest and for the third time in the playoffs. Tayshaun
Prince added 16 points, while Chauncey Billups had 11 points and seven
“It seemed like we played not to lose instead of playing to win,” said Detroit
coach Flip Saunders. “You have to learn from this.”
Cleveland entered the final frame down by six points but scored 12 of the
first 13 points in the quarter to take the lead. James’ first field goal of
the half, a step-back jumper from the right baseline over Prince, put the Cavs
on top. Snow then capped the run with a finger-roll-like lay-in and a pair of
free throws to make it a 65-60 game with 5:38 to go.
The Pistons slowly closed the gap as the game headed toward the stretch.
Billups drove down the lane and kicked the ball out to Prince at the top of
the circle. The lanky forward drained a long three and the Pistons were back
to within one, 70-69, with 3:22 on the clock.
After Flip Murray missed a three from the right corner, Maurice Evans chased
down a loose ball rebound and was on his way to a breakaway layup. Snow fouled
the Detroit guard very hard from behind and received a flagrant-1 foul. Evans
got two free throws and the Pistons got the ball on the side but Detroit came
out of the sequence with just one point to deadlock things at 70 with 2:53
Over the next 1 1/2 minutes, James’ driving layup was answered by a pair of
Hamilton free throws.
The Cavaliers continued to put the ball in their superstar’s hands, despite
his struggling shot. With 1:02 left, James drove hard down the left side of
the lane and drew contact from Hamilton. He made just 1-of-2 from the line to
give Cleveland a precarious 73-72 advantage.
Billups then drove by a slipping Snow and looked like he was on his way for an
easy lay-in but Varejao slid over and took the charge to put the ball back
in the Cavs’ hands with only 29.6 ticks left.
The Pistons didn’t foul and played matchup defense. James attempted a jumper
from just inside the three-point line but it came off the rim and into the
hands of Prince with 8.6 seconds left.
Detroit got the ball to Hamilton, who drove down the left side of the lane and
drew quite a bit of contact. But, the whistles were silent and Cleveland got
the ball back with 2.3 seconds left.
James then hit 1-of-2 from the line to seal things for Cleveland.
The opening frame featured a slow pace and excellent defense. Hamilton scored
11 of the Pistons 19 points in the quarter and Detroit held a slim, 19-16,
advantage after the first 12 minutes.
Both teams continued to struggle at the offensive end in the second quarter.
James’ step-back three, from deep on the left side, at the buzzer drew
Cleveland to within two, 38-36, at intermission.
The Pistons held James scoreless in the third quarter but Detroit still
couldn’t fashion much of a cushion and led 59-53 heading into the final frame.
The Cavaliers again were without the services of their second-leading playoff
scorer, guard Larry Hughes. Hughes, who also missed Game 3, remains in St.
Louis with his family mourning the death of his younger brother, Justin, who
was born with a heart defect and succumbed to the ailment on Thursday of last
week…Meanwhile, Detroit forward Rasheed Wallace sprained his right ankle in
the second quarter but played through the pain and finished with seven points
and six rebounds…The Pistons shot just 33.3 percent from the floor in the
game…Detroit, which won Games 1 and 2 at The Palace, had won six
straight Game 4s in the postseason, while the Cavaliers had lost five straight
Game 4s…Cleveland has never comeback from a 2-0 deficit to win a playoff
series, while the Pistons have never lost a set after winning Games 1 and
2…This is the first time that these teams have met in the postseason.