This time James shoots, but Pistons still hold on to beat Cavs


After passing up the last shot in the series-opening loss, LeBron James wasn't about to do it again in Game 2.

It still didn't work out for Cleveland.

James missed a shot in the lane with 7.9 seconds left on a play that a foul could've been called Thursday night, allowing Detroit to escape again with a 79-76 victory over the Cavaliers and a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Faced with a similar situation in the series opener, James passed up a shot in the final seconds, giving the ball to Donyell Marshall, who missed an open 3-pointer. The Pistons went on to win that game by the same score.

"We know we can compete with them, but these are heartbreak-type games," Cavs forward Drew Gooden said.

On Thursday night, the 22-year-old star dribbled into the lane and missed a spinning shot with Richard Hamilton draped on him.

"I believe there was some contact, but there's been a lot of contact throughout this series," James said. "We're a no-excuse team and we can't look at the last play as why we lost."

Detroit won because of Rasheed Wallace's play, particularly in the fourth quarter.

Wallace scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth and his fadeaway jumper on the baseline over James with 24 second left put Detroit ahead for good. He also had 11 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals.

"When he's focused and he's trying to take a game over, there's nobody that can stop him," teammate Chauncey Billups said. "He scores in so many different ways and he doesn't get a lot of press for the way he defends guys."

The Cavs scored just 13 points in each of the last two quarters, but they still had a shot to win.

Larry Hughes grabbed the offensive rebound after James missed, couldn't make a 10-footer and Anderson Varejao was just off on a tip.

Game — is Sunday night in Cleveland.

Detroit started 2-0 against the Cavs in the second round last year, but the Cavs responded by winning three straight before losing Game 7 on the road.

Hamilton and Billups had 13 points apiece and Jason Maxiell provided a boost off the bench with a playoff-high 15.

James finished with 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting and had seven assists, six turnovers and six rebounds. He scored a playoff-low 10 points on 5-of-15 shooting in Game 1.

For the second straight game, he didn't have much help offensively.

Sasha Pavlovic and Varejao each scored 14, but key players Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Larry Hughes combined for just 11 points. Rookie Daniel Gibson added a playoff-high nine points.

The Cavs led 50-38 after a dominant second quarter before a lackluster third allowed Detroit to come back.

Cleveland, following a trend of playing poorly right after halftime, had just seven points in the third until making two 3-pointers in the final 39 seconds to take a 63-60 lead into the fourth.

The Pistons seemed to take control with a 14-4 run in the fourth quarter that gave them a 74-69 lead, but Cleveland scored six straight to go back ahead in another ugly, close game.

"That was definitely an Eastern Conference grind-it-out game," Saunders said.

The Pistons expected James to be much more aggressive Thursday night, and he was.

James went right at the basket the first time Cleveland had the ball and made a layup. A couple of possessions later, he was fouled as he drove into the lane and went to the line after not attempting one free throw Monday night.

Wallace went to the bench with two fouls 31/2 minutes into the game, Antonio McDyess left the game with a cut in his mouth and Maxiell made the most of the opportunity to play.

In exactly a minute, he blocked James' shot, dunked off an offensive rebound and had an alley-oop slam. Maxiell finished the quarter with seven points, four rebounds and two blocks to help Detroit take a 20-16 lead.

"It was unexpected," Gooden said. "But these are the playoffs and guys get amped up to play. He had his opportunity to shine and he did." Notes:

Tayshaun Prince is shooting 1-for-19 against the Cavs after making exactly 50 percent of his shots and was averaging about 15 points in the first two rounds. ... James said he's not closer to deciding whether he'll play for Team USA this summer. ... Christopher Roumaueh of Lake Orion made $50,000 for making a shot from midcourt during a timeout in a promotion sponsored by Rock Financial, a company owned by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who attended the game.

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