Professional Game Coverage: Cleveland 94, Detroit 82


"Mo Williams helps Cavs roll," by Chris Broussard

Four seconds into the game, the Pistons made good on their promise, trapping James in the left corner with Antonio McDyess and Rip Hamilton. James beat it with a skip pass and soon thereafter, Williams buried a 20-footer to open the scoring and give Cleveland a lead it never surrendered. It was a precursor of things to come, as Williams followed James’ game-high 29 points with 21.

Williams thought he’d have a good game, especially after Pistons coach Michael Curry revealed his strategy after Game 1.

"We’ve seen teams run and jump LeBron before,” Williams said. "We’re prepared for that. I hope they run and jump. Because I’m itching. I’m itching for them to do that because I’m going to knock down shots. That’s how much confidence I have when LeBron kicks it out. Pick your poison. Pick your poison.”

"Cavs top Pistons with balanced scoring," by Elias Sports Bureau

LeBron James scored 29 points and got support from Mo Williams (21) and Delonte West (20) in the Cavaliers’ 94-82 win over the Pistons. It was the first time in 19 years that three players scored at least 20 points in a 48-minute playoff win against Detroit. The last teammates to do so were Doc Rivers (34), Dominique Wilkins (24), and Sidney Moncrief (23) of the Hawks on May 2, 1991.

CBS Sports

"Make unselfish LeBron angry; I’d really like him if he were angry," by Gregg Doyel

et’s define a term, shall we? By unselfish superstar, I don’t mean "gets lots of assists." Magic Johnson was the best at that, and Bob Cousy and John Stockton weren’t bad. They were unselfish, clearly, and they were superstars. But they weren’t the same kind of unselfish, score-at-will superstar as LeBron or Wilt. Chamberlain once averaged 50 points per game in a season, was at 44.8 in another season and reached the upper 30s four other times. He wasn’t just a superstar. He was an offensive force of nature.

And still he passed the ball. A lot. Chamberlain didn’t famously lead the NBA in assists until he was 31, when his scoring had dropped to 24.3 ppg and his assists were up to 8.6, but he was in the league’s top 10 in assists three other times, including seasons in which he averaged 36.9 ppg and 33.5 ppg. The guy could score whenever he wanted to. Every time down the floor, he was his team’s best scoring option. And still he passed the ball.

Just like James.

Detroit News

"LeBron James’ talent too much for Pistons," by Chris McCosky

As the Pistons continue to slide off the basketball radar, let’s not lose sight of what’s really happening here.

LeBron James might be in the process of redefining the NBA’s gold standard. He needs to win a few rings before he unseats Michael Jordan, obviously. But I am here to tell you, he’s 6-foot-9, 270 pounds, and most of the time is stronger, faster and jumps higher than anybody on the court.

If he stays healthy and committed, he’s going to be the best that’s ever played before his time is done.

"Cavaliers put Pistons on the ropes," by Chris McCosky

Don’t be fooled by the final score. The Cavaliers never trailed and were up by 27 points after three quarters.

"They are the best team in the league and they are at home, but at the same time, we’ve got to play with some type of heart," Antonio McDyess said. "We aren’t playing at all like we’ve got any energy. We’re just going through the motions, it seems like."

When asked why that was, McDyess said, "Your guess is better than mine."

"Pistons bench gets Michael Curry’s attention," by Chris McCosky

There will be no lineup change, but that doesn’t mean the reserves didn’t show Pistons coach Michael Curry something.

"I think the second group of guys showed it doesn’t matter what we do, coverage-wise," Curry said. "If you go out, execute and do it extremely hard, we’ll be OK. We cover a lot of ground. We showed on pick and rolls. We trapped. They brought LeBron (James) back in, we trapped, rotated and covered the shooters.

"Physically, we were able to get it done. That’s what we take out of it."

The Pistons were down 27 after three quarters. Curry sent in the second unit. Bynum scored 11 points with five assists and two steals. Afflalo had 10 points, Jason Maxiell had four rebounds and Johnson was flying around covering several perimeter positions.

"Cavs’ Smith provides blueprint for Pistons’ Brown," by Chris McCosky

Cavaliers forward Joe Smith and Pistons center Kwame Brown have for their careers fought the label of "draft bust."

Smith was No. 1 overall in 1995, Brown No. 1 in 2001.

"We’ve never had a sit-down; I’ve never even talked to Kwame, except on the court during games," Smith said. "But we both understand. We know what expectations are for any No. 1 pick."

Still, you would think Brown could take some solace in what Smith has achieved. Though never an all-star, Smith has carved out a successful 14-year career, averaging 11.6 points and 6.7 rebounds. He’s been a reliable and productive role player on seven playoff teams.

Detroit Free Press

"Pistons not even worth taking seriously," by Michael Rosenberg

Come on. You’re not counting the Pistons out, are you? Why? Just because they got drilled twice by Cleveland, appear to have replaced the coach’s blackboard with a piece of pavement and some chalk, could not guard LeBron James if the NBA made both fisticuffs and handcuffs legal, and look like they stopped believing in themselves two months ago?

Oh. Well, then I guess I see your point.

The Pistons are so dead, this series should be called on account of carcass. Maybe the Pistons will squeeze out a game at the Palace, but even that seems unlikely.

"LeBron too much for Pistons, down 0-2," by Vince Ellis

By playing the Cavs so often (four times per season and facing them in the playoffs two of the past three seasons), the Pistons generally have a good feel for what the Cavs are trying to do.

But this is a different Cavs team than in the past. With the addition of Mo Williams and a cadre of shooters, gone are the days where the Cavs would just throw the ball to James and have everyone else get out of the way.

"A couple of years ago, we did a lot of standing," James said. "We relied on me sometimes just to dribble and get us into making a play for either myself or a teammate.

"The ball movement that we have and the way we rely on my teammates to make plays is at an all-time high for us as a team just because we’ve been doing it all year, and repetition helps."

"Fans, opposing players awed by LeBron James," by Vince Ellis

But what wasn’t expected was for Tayshaun Price to be suffering from sore ribs, an injury he sustained in the regular-season finale at Miami on Wednesday night.

If you ever have had sore ribs, you know Prince isn’t in top shape to be battling the 6-foot-8, 250-pound James.

But since James plays small forward and it is the postseason, the Pistons and Prince have little choice.

"It’s not stopping me from jumping or running for that matter, it just locks up when I’m out of the game and sit for a minute or even during time-outs," said Prince, who had a wrap around his waist after the game. "That’s why during the time-outs I was standing, because I really couldn’t sit down."

"At Cleveland," by Vince Ellis

The Pistons trotted out a big lineup of Tayshaun Price and Hamilton in the backcourt with Kwame Brown, Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess up front in the first quarter. They employed a zone for the five defensive possessions with the lineup and gave up two three-pointers.

Booth Newspapers

"Pistons’ rally falls short in Game 2 at Cleveland," by A. Sherrod Blakely

"We didn’t come out and do the job we were assigned to do," Pistons starting power forward Antonio McDyess said. "It’s like they were doing anything they wanted to do on offense. We didn’t give any resistance.

"We have to play with some type of heart. We ain’t playing at all like we got any type of energy. We’re just going out there, going through the motions, it seems like."

"Pistons still struggling to stop Cavs’ LeBron James," by A. Sherrod Blakely

Pistons forward Amir Johnson, on Cleveland’s moppy-haired power forward Anderson Varejao: "He plays hard, but the hair makes it seem like he plays harder."

The Plain Dealer

"Pistons teach Cavaliers a needed lesson: There’s no coasting in the playoffs," by Terry Pluto

But the Cavs must not forget that while the Pistons might be old and sputtering, they still have enough gas in the tank to push the Cavaliers to the edge of anxiety if the home team wants to coast when the starters need a rest.

Hey, guys, how can you allow anyone to outscore you 32-17 on your home floor in the fourth quarter of the playoffs? How can you settle for long, lazy jumpers? For half-hearted switches on defense? For indifferent effort on the boards?

Brown must drive home the point that the Cavs can’t allow an opponent to bolt to a 27-5 fourth-quarter run and still expect to win — as they did last night. Not against Miami, Atlanta, Orlando or anyone else in the Eastern Conference that has an offense with more octane than these Pistons.

"Flawless for three quarters, Cavaliers fall flat in fourth, but hold off Pistons, 94-82," by Brian Windhorst

In the guts of the game, the Pistons changed the way they played James. With Tayshaun Prince dealing with a back injury, Pistons coach Michael Curry put Richard Hamilton on James and then rotated Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo on him. When James stopped moving, the Pistons then brought a big man over to double-team him.

At one point, Detroit played a huge lineup with no one under 6-7 on the court in a zone, which seemed to confuse the Cavs for a moment or two.

But the Cavs have been built for these situations, especially in the playoffs. James did two things — forcing the issue by driving into the pressure looking to draw fouls, and passing to his offensively skilled teammates. Both worked quite well, which is how the Cavs were able to control the game throughout.

"That was probably the biggest lineup in NBA history," James said. "You want to be aggressive against aggressive teams and definitely they are very aggressive on defense."

"Mo Williams gets the jump on Pistons, helps Cavaliers build a dominating Game 2 lead," by Jodie Valade

“I ain’t been in too many playoff games," he said of his six-game total. "It was just a normal day at the office. This team expects me to go out and perform. If I don’t, it’s a bad day for me."

That’s what happened in Game 1, when Williams was a step slow when defending Stuckey, got in foul trouble, and wound up with a tentative 12 points. Stuckey, meanwhile, accumulated 20 points on 5-for-21 shooting.

In the two off days between games, Williams analyzed every drive Stuckey took in the opener, locating instances where he made mistakes and times when he correctly defended the Pistons point guard.

"We went to the drawing board," Williams said. "So I had a quicker step tonight. I was quicker to my spots."

"The Courtside View: Seen and heard around Saturday’s Game 1 of Cavaliers-Pistons," by Mary Schmitt

OK, he’s not their coach. But as Mike Brown received his Coach of the Year Award before the game, the Pistons conducted their normal pre-game huddle, complete with Rasheed Wallace dancing in the middle of his teammates. Thus inspired, they proceeded to fall behind, 12-2.

Akron Beacon Journal

"Pistons rally in the fourth to spoil fun," by Patrick McManamon

Detroit called timeout trailing 68-46, and you wonder what in the heck Curry said to his players.

Curry had Saturday night, all day Sunday and Monday to come up with something after his team lost Game 1.

During the timeout, the Teletubbies danced on the big screen while Curry tried to coach.

He might as well have put the Teletubbies (”Tinky winky passes to Po, back to Dipsy … ”) out there for all that.

The result: At the end of the third quarter Delonte West made a 3-pointer that gave the Cavs a 27-point lead.

A once-proud team was playing like it knew it had no chance.

"Cavs KO Pistons in Game 2," by George M. Thomas

James didn’t match his point total from the weekend, but Curry’s calculated gamble of forcing the rest of the Cavs to beat his team proved to be a bust.

The Cavs worked the ball around on offense as Delonte West (20 points, three rebounds, four assists) and Mo Williams (21 points, two rebounds, seven assists) knocked down shots. The Cavs’ defense forced the Pistons to sputter with 40 percent shooting.

"Finishing second OK with LeBron," by Tom Gaffney

The two home games for the Pistons guarantee them nothing, forward Tayshaun Prince said.

”We haven’t played well at home all season,” Prince said. ”We’ve had a lot of bad losses at home to teams we definitely should have beat. To get in the playoffs now and obviously have your home crowd and court is something that’s important. But we’ve definitely shown throughout the season that we haven’t done a good job of taking care of our home court.”

The Pistons were 21-20 at home this season, going 1-1 against the Cavs.

The Morning Journal

"THE MORNING ROAST: Wallace should be respected as a person," by Mike Perry

The best thing about Wallace’s charitable endeavors is that he doesn’t just write a check and feel like he has done his part. Every year around Christmas he visits Children’s Hospital, usually bringing along a few teammates, to visit with and distribute gifts to sick children in Detroit. Kids with life-threatening diseases, kids who have virtual death sentences, the most heartbreaking children who, in some cases, are living out the rest of their short lives in antiseptic hospital wards — Wallace does what he can to bring smiles to their young faces.

Wallace is also very active in the NBA’s "Read to Achieve" program.

Wallace might be the biggest punk you will ever see on the basketball court, but everything he does away from the game of basketball deserves our respect.

Hate him as a player, respect him as a person.

"Cavs are built to win now," by Jeff Schudel

The Cavaliers lost an epic seven-game battle to the Celtics last year in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and as they fell in Boston in Game Seven it was more evident than ever the Cavs needed someone other than James to direct the offense.

In the Cavaliers locker room before the game Tuesday night, James was talking about how he sets goals for himself every season. Williams, sitting in his chair on the other side of the locker room, overheard James and announced, smiling, what one of James’ goals was after last season, "Get Mo here! Get Mo here!"

James broke into a smile and chuckled before proceeding.

"Cavs have Pistons’ number," by Brad Bournival

When James drove the lane in the first half, Johnson met him with a hard shove to the ground. And when Anderson Varejao approached him, Johnson gave him a shove as well.

That drew a technical, but showed these Pistons can be just as mean as the teams in the past. The fact Kwame Brown picked one up at halftime showed there was still some spit left in Detroit.

"We’re a different Detroit team than we were two years ago," Curry said. "We lost that series. Hopefully some of the older guys can calm things down and get after it. We’ll try to find the perfect mix."

"PHYSICAL CONFRONTATION: No answer for King James as Cavs survive bumps and bruises," by Bob Finnan

The Cavs were 32 of 43 from the foul line, compared to 13 of 16 for the Pistons.

"We have to find way to keep them off free-throw line," Pistons coach Michael Curry said.

"LeBron finishes second in DPOY voting, Brown satisfied," by David Glasier

Brown has never lost a first-round series in the playoffs. “You need patience, but still have a sense of urgency,” he said. “You need that to have success in the playoffs.”

Cavs the Blog

"Recap: (14) Really? Is this all we have to be concerned with?," by John Krolik

More of LeBron just wanting to destroy everyone. 17 free throws means that they can’t stop him from getting to the basket and he doesn’t want to stop going. This was a bit of an uglier game than game 1, and LeBron was ugly-effective, getting to the line over and over again. He was also mixing it up, judiciously going to the post and refraining from shooting midrange jumpers until the fourth quarter, with two of his three misses from that range coming on the Cavs’ final two possessions. Add that to the 13 rebounds, and this game was all about LeBron James just physically overpowering a team with nothing approaching an answer for him.

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