Sat, Jun 02, 2007 - Page 20 News List

James lifts Cavs to verge of finals

LE BRON STEALS THE SHOW The Pistons blew a seven-point advantage with 3


LeBron James used one of the most spectacular performances in playoff history to lift the Cleveland Cavaliers to the verge of their greatest season.

James' career playoff-high 48 points -- including 29 of his team's final 30 -- carried the Cavaliers to within a win of the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history with a 109-107 double-overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.

James made a go-ahead layup with 2.2 seconds left and Detroit's Chauncey Billups missed a shot in the lane on the ensuing possession.

It was one of the many driving shots that James made look easy.

"They are definitely a great defensive team, but I was determined to attack," James said.

The Pistons blew a seven-point lead with 3:15 left in regulation and lost the third straight game in the series after winning the first two.

Game Six is tonight in Cleveland and if necessary, Game Seven will be on Monday night back at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The San Antonio Spurs, who eliminated Utah on Wednesday, have a week off before hosting Game One of the NBA finals.

Detroit can only hope the series ends like its last postseason matchup with the Cavs.

The Pistons won the first two games of the conference semi-finals last year, then lost three straight and needed to win on the road and then at home in Game Seven.

James was 18-of-33 from the field, making both of his 3-pointers, and 10-of-14 from the free throw line. He also had nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals in a performance that might end up be a defining game of his career.

"We tried to trap him and get it out of his hands, but he attacked," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We'll definitely have to do something different next time."

The 22-year-old star showed he's human, though, airballing a shot just before the shot clock expired with 6.6 seconds left in the first overtime that gave Detroit a chance to force another period.

James put Billups on the line with 3.1 seconds left and he made two free throws to make it 100-all.

The Cavs have prided themselves on not being a one-man show, but James just about did it alone against a team in the conference finals for the fifth straight year.

He simply took over late in regulation and in both overtimes, choosing to attack the basket with driving layups and dunks instead of deferring to teammates.

James scored 32 more points than Cleveland's second-leading scorer, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who fouled out with 16 points.

"Somebody told me that in the locker room that he scored 29 of our last 30 points and I could not believe it," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "Everybody keeps asking for more, and he keeps giving more. I feel bad that my words don't do justice what he did."

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