CLEVELAND, May 15 (Ticker) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers opted to let their defense do the talking.

With LeBron James enduring a rough second half, Anderson Varejao and the Cavaliers locked down defensively, smothering the Detroit Pistons in a critical 74-72 victory to even their Eastern Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.

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Press Conference: Play
James scored just seven of his 22 points in the second half, finishing 8-of-23 from the field and 5-of-10 from the line with a game-high eight turnovers.

"I know I didn't play extremely well offensively, but on the defensive end we got it done," said James, who did contribute nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a pair of blocks. "One thing that is helping us right now is that we don't feel any pressure - the Pistons feel all the pressure."

Cleveland, which was playing its second straight game without third-leading scorer Larry Hughes - who is mourning the death of his brother - had six other players score between six and 12 points and, most importantly, turned up the defense when it mattered most.

"I love this grind-it-out, figure-it-out, bump here, bump there, attack-on-both-ends style of basketball," Cavaliers coach MikeBrown said. "In close games, we have found a way to tighten up our defense."

After allowing the Pistons to average 105.0 points while dropping the first two games of the series, the Cavaliers have held the best team in the East to 75.5 points in the past two victories.

"Defensively it has to be everyone," Cleveland guard Eric Snow said. "We are more in tune with their sets and more in tune to their personnel. We are making jump shooters put the ball on the floor and we are shrinking the court. We are contesting shots and trying to eliminate their easy baskets."

Detroit shot only 33 percent (25-of-75) in this one, including an abysmal 4-of-18 in the fourth quarter. The Pistons made just 4-of-15 3-pointers and committed 14 turnovers against only 12 assists.

"We've gotten locked in so much in trying to attack their mismatches that I think at times, some pick-and-roll situations, that it's really bogged down our offense," said Pistons coach Flip Saunders, whose team lost back-to-back games for just the third time this season.

The fourth-seeded Cavaliers held Detroit to just two points in the final 2:50 with the help of two key defensive plays from Varejao in the final 30 seconds.

With Cleveland holding a 73-72 lead with 29.6 seconds left, the Brazilian forward stepped in and took a charge on Chauncey Billups. After James missed a jumper on the other end, Varejao altered Richard Hamilton's runner in the lane with about five seconds to go.

"I just tried to be in good position," Varejao said of the charge on Billups. "I anticipated he was going to drive to the basket."

"(Varejao) has about the quickest feet of any guy I know that is 7-feet, or 6-10 and some hair," Brown joked.

Snow scored 12 points and Varejao added 10 and six rebounds for the Cavaliers, who received a little extra motivation to win the contest Sunday when Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace guaranteed a victory. However, Wallace was unable to back it up as he battled a sprained ankle to score only seven points on 3-of-13 shooting.

"(Wallace) just really could not move," Saunders said of the enigmatic All-Star, who played only 33 ineffective minutes. "We tried to give it to him while he was in there but basically he couldn't get any for us, so we decided to go small and actually played pretty well with a small lineup."

"I twisted it pretty bad at first, but I will be alright," said Wallace, who stuck to his vow that Detroit would win the series. "I mean no way in (heck) they are going to beat us in this series."

Hamilton led Detroit with 30 points on 11-of-25 shooting. Tayshaun Prince contributed 16 points and Billups added 13 but shot just 3-of-10 from the field. The Pistons, who received only seven points from their bench, will host Game 5 on Wednesday.

"I think a little bit that we've played more not to lose than we played to win," Saunders said.

The teams jockeyed back and forth for most of the first half with neither team leading by more than five points. The Pistons shot only 34 percent (14-of-41) but entered intermission with a 38-36 lead behind 15 points from Hamilton. James scored 15 points to lead the Cavaliers, capping the opening 24 minutes with a difficult stepback 3-pointer as the second-quarter buzzer sounded.

However, James would make only one more basket until he converted a challenging lefthanded drive to the rim that gave Cleveland a 72-70 lead with 2:18 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Hamilton answered with a pair of free throws to tie it before James split two foul shots with 1:02 to play.

Detroit had a premium opportunity to regain the lead on its next trip but Prince missed a jumper and Hamilton short-armed a layup. The Pistons got back possession following a jump ball, but once Billups beat Snow off the dribble, Varejao stepped in and took the pivotal charge.

"The last two games we haven't gotten it done in the last five minutes," Hamilton said. "We played our style of game. I thought there were a couple questionable calls at the end of the game, but it happens. We had the game right where we wanted it."

James capped the scoring with a free throw with 1.3 seconds to go. Without a timeout left, the Pistons were unable to get a shot off on their final chance as Prince's inbounds pass eluded Billups in the backcourt.

After the game, Snow and James both insisted that Wallace's comments did not fuel their performance. They both know that talking a good game only matters if you back it up on the court.

"When someone makes a statement like that, you win the game," said Snow, who made 5-of-7 shots. "That is the best thing you can do when someone makes a statement like that."

"You can't get caught up in Rasheed's comments," James added. "We just have to go out and play our game and take care of business. The first team to win on the opponent's court will win the series."