AUBURN HILLS, Mich., May 7 (Ticker) --Tayshaun Prince's defensive
assignment did nothing to slow down his offensive game.
Prince scored 16 of his 24 points in a blistering first half as
the Detroit Pistons coasted to a 113-86 victory over the weary
Cleveland Cavaliers in the opener of the Eastern Conference
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Richard Hamilton added 20 points and Chauncey Billups 14 and 10
assists for the top-seeded Pistons, who put on an offensive
clinic in looking very much like the NBA's best team.
"We got our behinds kicked," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.
"I'll tell you what, they shot the heck out of the ball. They
jumped on us early. This team already has a lot of confidence
and when they go on runs like that at the end of the quarters,
they tend to pounce on you. They played a (heck) of a
The lanky 6-9 Prince will be the primary defender on 21-year-old
phenom LeBron James, who averaged 30.7 points in leading the
fourth-seeded Cavs by the fifth-seeded Washington Wizards in
six games in the first round. James finished second in the NBA
MVP voting to Steve Nash earlier Sunday.
Prince was the offensive leader in the first half, when the
Pistons took all the drama out of this one.
Behind Prince, the Pistons shot 65 percent (24-of-37) and made
10-of-11 attempts from 3-point range in the first half en route
to building a commanding 69-48 lead.
The Pistons, who scored a franchise-record 43 points in the
second quarter, led by as many as 37 points in the second half.
"Tay was great because I think it's important to make LeBron
work," Hamilton said. "They depend on him so much on the
offensive end, you've got to make him work on the defensive end,
too. Tay did an excellent job of doing that."
Detroit shot 52 percent (42-of-81) overall and went 15-of-22
from the arc.
"We just shot the ball great," Billups said. "When we can shoot
it that good, nobody can really beat us. If any team shoots it
that good, you're in trouble."
Playing less than 48 hours after closing their series against
the Wizards, the Cavs held a 12-7 lead less than four minutes
into the contest before the rested Pistons took control.
Billups, who finished fifth in MVP voting earlier in the day,
scored nine points in a 19-4 surge over the last 8:15 of the
first quarter that gave the Pistons a 26-16 lead. The lead only
grew larger thereafter.
Prince and Lindsey Hunter nailed 3-pointers and Antonio McDyess
drained a jumper to push the advantage to 56-39 with 2:36 left
in the half. Hunter also drilled two long shots from the arc in
the final minute of the half.
The Pistons' advantage grew to 94-63 after three quarters.
"We definitely know that we aren't going to shoot like this
throughout the playoffs, but we knew we had to set a tone
today," Prince said.
McDyess and Hunter scored 12 points apiece for Detroit, which
had been off since Wednesday after disposing of Milwaukee in
five games in the first round. The Pistons closed that series
with a 122-93 destruction.
"Lindsey has always been known for his ability to defend, but
he, along with all of our bench players, have shot the ball
extremely well these first six games of the playoffs," Detroit
coach Flip Saunders said.
James scored all 22 of his points in the first half for the
Cavs, who are in the conference semifinals for the first time in
13 years. The superstar did not play the fourth quarter with
the game out of reach.
"It wasn't frustrating, it was a bit discouraging," James said.
"You play defense for 22 or 23 seconds and a guy hits a three at
the end of the shot clock. But give much credit to the Pistons.
They came out, took care of business on their home court and
that's what it's about."
Game 2 is here Tuesday.