James helps Cavs get back on track in series

Sunday, May 14, 2006

LeBron James wasn't quite ready for his first taste of the NBA playoffs to end swiftly.

James scored 15 points in the fourth quarter and got his second triple-double of the postseason, leading Cleveland to an 86-77 win over the visiting Detroit Pistons on Saturday and pulling the Cavaliers within 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 confidence and ensured they will play at least two more games this season.

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 were 11-of-15 from the floor and 9-of-9 from the line in the fourth.

Cleveland can even up the best-of-seven series at home in Game 4 on Monday.

The Cavaliers played without Hughes, who was with his grieving family in St. Louis following the unexpected death of his 20-year-old brother, Justin. Born with a heart defect, Justin Hughes had a transplant in 1997.

Richard Hamilton scored 22 points, Chauncey Billups 20 and Ben Wallace had 13 rebounds for the Pistons, who shot only 39 percent from the floor after blistering the nets in the first two games of the series.

Mavs take 2-1 lead

This time, it was the San Antonio Spurs who couldn't make the play at the end. Just like that, their title defense could be in trouble.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 of his 27 points from the foul line, including a go-ahead pair with 7.9 seconds left, and the Mavs withstood two last-gasp chances after that to beat the Spurs 104-103 on Saturday night to take a 2-1 lead in their second-round series.

After San Antonio's Robert Horry botched a handoff to Manu Ginobili, caroming the ball out of bounds, Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse went to the line with 2 seconds left. He missed the first, then intentionally missed the second, hoping it would clang off the rim. But he missed.

Brent Barry heaved the ball from in front of the Mavs bench to the lane, but Josh Howard was there to disrupt it.

-- The Associated Press

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