The Detroit Pistons made 10 3-pointers in the first half -- one shy of an NBA playoff record -- to open up a 21-point lead at halftime before cruising to a 113-86 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday in Game 1 of their second-round series.
LeBron James scored all of his 22 points in the first half, but had to work for each one. Defended by three players at times, James was forced to take tough shots or defer to teammates who didn't respond by making shots of their own.
The 21-year-old star didn't play in the fourth quarter after he was held scoreless in the third. Tayshaun Prince made James work on defense, too, scoring 16 of his 24 points in the first half.
The two-time defending Eastern Conference champions turned the game into a rout with a franchise playoff-record 43 points in the second quarter against a team in the second round for the first time since 1993.
Spurs 87, Mavericks 85
In San Antonio, Tim Duncan scored 20 of his 31 points in the first half to boost his worn-out teammates and Bruce Bowen topped his stifling defense on Dirk Nowitzki by hitting the game-winning 3-pointer with 2:15 left.
The Spurs were playing just 36 hours after closing out their first-round series in Sacramento, while the Mavs had been off since May 1.
Dallas tied it at 84 on a free throw by Josh Howard, but managed only one free throw the rest of the way. The Mavericks' final possession was ruined by Bowen forcing Nowitzki to pass it to Jerry Stackhouse in the left corner. Tight defense by Manu Ginobili, who nearly stole the pass, resulted in Stackhouse stepping back for a 3-point try that came up way short.
Duncan made 12 of 24 shots, getting all three of Dallas' centers in early foul trouble, and grabbed 13 rebounds. Tony Parker scored 19 points and Ginobili added 15.
Nowitzki was 8-of-20 -- and only 1-of-4 in the fourth quarter. Stackhouse led the Mavericks with 24 points.
Steve Nash won the National Basketball Association's Most Valuable Player award for the second straight year Sunday, beating runner-up LeBron James by a comfortable margin.
The award was presented Sunday at a news conference at US Airways Center, where Phoenix won Game 7 of its first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.
"I have to pinch myself," the South African native said. "I can't believe that I'm standing here today. I couldn't believe it last year, and to do it again is even more difficult to understand -- but I'm not going to give it back."
The Phoenix Suns point guard received 57 first-place votes and 924 points overall from a panel of 125 sports writers and broadcasters in the US and Canada.
James of Cleveland had 16 first-place votes and 688 points overall. Nash's close friend Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas was third with 14 first-place ballots and 544 overall. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers had the second-most votes for first place (22), but was fourth overall with 483 points.
"Steve is not just a great player," Suns chairman Jerry Colangelo. "He's one of the few players who I believe have ever played who makes everyone better around him. There are very few players who have the ability to directly control the flow of the game, and he does it as well as anyone ever has."
The 32-year-old Canadian is the ninth player to win consecutive MVP awards and 11th to win it more than once.