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
"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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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."
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."