CLEVELAND, Sporting Alert – Kyrie Irving scored 31 points to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 106-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series opener Sunday.
Irving shot 10 of 25 from the floor, dished out six assists and pulled down five rebounds for the Cavs, who had to work hard to put away a very confident Pistons team, which had four playoff debutants in their the starting lineup making their playoffs debut.
Kevin Love, playing his first playoff game since picking up a shoulder injury against Boston in the first round last year, added 28 points and 13 rebounds while LeBron James finished with 22 points, 11 assists and six rebounds for Cleveland, which shot 44.3 percent from the floor.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Pistons with 21 points and Marcus Morris finished with 20, although he scored just one point in the second half after a very strong 19 point first half performance.
Reggie Jackson had 17 points and Andre Drummond grabbed a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds for Detroit, which led by seven with 11:04 left, but failed to maintain that advantage.
Detroit, which averaged nine 3-pointers during the regular season, made an impressive 15 3-pointers on Sunday, but those long-range efforts weren’t enough to fend off the reigning Eastern Conference champions.
FINALLY TAKING THE LEAD
James knocked down a pair of free throws with 8:15 remaining to give the Cavaliers the lead for the last time, and although Jackson made a 3-pointer to even the scores at 88-88 with 6:29 left, the Pistons were outscored down the stretch and failed to get back into the contest.
The game saw 17 lead changes while the scores were tied 21 times.
Pistons’ Jackson picked up a technical with 3:24 left in the 4th quarter for being too aggressive towards the referee, following a shooting play where he got hit on the arm and the officials failed to call a foul on the Cavs.
Game 2 of this series is Wednesday night, again at Quicken Loans Arena and the Cavs will be hoping for a more dominant performance.
At the same time, the No. 8 seeded Pistons, despite the defeat, will take some positive from this game, having battled toe-to-toe with the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed.