LeBron scores 27, Cavs make 20 3s in Game 2 win over Pistons
CLEVELAND (AP) J.R. Smith looked down at the postgame box score and couldn't believe his eyes.
''We shot 38 3s?'' he asked. ''Damn.''
Yep, and dropped 20 to sink the Pistons.
LeBron James scored 27 points, Smith made seven of Cleveland's NBA playoff record-tying 20 3-pointers, and the Cavs opened a 2-0 lead in their increasingly testy series with a 107-90 victory over Detroit on Wednesday night.
The top-seeded Cavs put away the up-and-coming Pistons in the third quarter, outscoring them 27-15 to protect home-court advantage. They did it with a flurry of six 3s, including two by Smith.
''I'm open, so I shoot the ball,'' Smith explained. ''It's kind of simple for me.''
There was nothing easy about their first two wins and the Cavs, favored to win the Eastern Conference and return to the finals, will have their work cut out when the best-of-seven series resumes on Friday night at Detroit.
The young Pistons aren't backing down and rookie Stanley Johnson had strong words for the Cavs afterward.
''Their whole team talks,'' said Johnson, who was also upset with James for bumping him at the end of the first quarter. ''All those guys on the bench, they're like cheerleaders. Only 7-8 guys are playing, but they're all talking. They might as well be in the stands.''
James also took exception to being hit by Marcus Morris' elbow in the fourth quarter. There's a video circulating of James taking issue with it and mouthing a threat.
''There hasn't been one dirty play in the series,'' James said, downplaying the teams' dislike for each other. ''I will make sure my guys understand that we're here to play basketball, everything else is irrelevant. There's a video here, a video there - means absolutely nothing. I took a shot, but I'm OK, I'm still standing tall.''
Kyrie Irving added 22 points for Cleveland, which shares the postseason record for 3s with Golden State (2015), Dallas (2011) and Seattle (1996).
Andre Drummond scored 20 for the Pistons, who have lost 10 straight playoff games against Cleveland. Drummond was just 4 of 16 from the line and the Pistons didn't do enough on either end to slow the Cavs.
''I don't care if you're left by yourself, 20 of 38 is pretty good shooting,'' Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said of Cleveland's 3-point onslaught.
Smith's outside shooting was a welcomed addition for the Cavs, who got 81 points from James, Irving and Kevin Love in Game 1 but can't count on that production from them every time. Smith scored only nine points in the opener, but that didn't deter him from firing away.
The Cavs are counting on Smith, who had a rough postseason last year, when he was suspended in the first round and shot poorly in the NBA Finals.
Cleveland made six 3s in the third when it twisted a five-point deficit into a 14-point lead.
The biggest 3 in the spurt came from James, who after knocking down his shot, raised three fingers on both hands while standing just a few feet away from Van Gundy. It was some payback for James, who had refused to get caught up in a verbal battle between games with Van Gundy. Detroit's talkative coached was fined $25,000 by the NBA for criticizing what he felt was preferential treatment for James.
James went on a four-minute tear in the second quarter, capping it with a two-handed jam he punctuated by him hanging on the rim and swinging in celebration.
Following his dismount, James screamed as he backpedaled on defense as his teammates erupted on the bench and Cavs fans high-fived throughout Quicken Loans Arena.
He aggressively backed down Johnson several times, and as he passed the 19-year-old, James seemed to deliver an intentional shot with his shoulder.
''I was walking in a straight line,'' Johnson said. ''I didn't bump him, he bumped me. It was a cheap-ass shot, a cheap-ass bump.''
Pistons: Van Gundy opened his availability before the shootaround by joking that he should have been on Sports Illustrated's list of the 50 most fashionable people in sports. ''The fact that I wasn't on that list is a travesty,'' he said. ''I'm known for my fashion, am I not? C'mon. I was very disappointed.'' ... Detroit was one of the most balanced teams during the regular season as its starters all scored in double figures in a league-high 27 games.
Cavaliers: While Van Gundy does his best to ''work'' the officials, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue doesn't favor the practice. ''Never will,'' he said. ''I just don't do it. I played 11 years in my career and I never got a technical foul. I just don't believe in it.'' ... James moved past Michael Jordan in postseason games played and into a tie with Dennis Johnson for 16th on the career list.