Ouch. That hurt. But it wasn't completely unpredictable -- the Game 3 curse strikes again. Playing on the road in front of an excited crowd cheering a team that probably only has a couple of games left in their season, the Pistons let this one slip away.
The Pistons did a great job containing LeBron James for three quarters, holding him to just six points. But James' 15-point explosion in the fourth quarter was too much to bear, especially in the face of a horrible shooting game by, well, just about everyone wearing blue.
James got a triple double, getting his 10th assist on a three-pointer from Damon Jones that was pretty much the proverbial "dagger." James also came through with some timely defense with four steals, not to mention an excruciating block on Maurice Evans as the shot-clock expired. All in all, James played like a superstar, grinding out production on a night that one of the top defensive team's in the league appeared to have his number for much of the game.
Anderson Vaejao was second on the team with 16 points in 22 minutes, getting most of his points against a nervous interior defense that popped into the air at the slightest hint of a pumpfake. Congrats to Sideshow, I'm sure he took great joy in outplaying Detroit's entire frontcourt.
Rasheed Wallace had an awkward game, shooting 3-11 from the field while scoring 11 points with six rebounds in 36 minutes. He finished with five fouls, but three of those came late -- don't look at the box score and just think that he was simply saddled with foul trouble for most of the game.
Considering the job he did on LeBron James for most of the game, I don't want to single out Tayshaun Prince too much, but he too struggled, shooting just 4-10 and finishing with 10 points, four boards and four assists. He had a chance to put Detroit within five with 30 seconds left, but he was tentative going to the hole and missed a driving layup. In hindsight, it likely would have been too little, too late regardless, but in the heat of the moment it was basically his entire night in a nutshell.
Chauncey Billups (20 points) and Rip Hamilton (22) kept this game close, but not having anyone else step up really hurt.
As much as I hate to admit it, the Cavs really should take a lot from this game. Neither team played exceptionally well, and Cleveland learned that when all things are equal, having a hot LBJ can put them over the top against an elite team. The Pistons are supposedly known for putting away games late, but today, it was all Cavs. If Rasheed Wallace comes through with a rebound performance in Game 4, Game 3 won't mean a thing, but the Cavs are just one lackluster performance by Detroit from tying this series up.
I'm going to cut this short, because it's best not to expound too much while I'm still angry. Plus, I really, really need to take a shower -- listening to Brent Musberger and Len Elmore fellate LeBron James for two and a half hours made me feel kind of dirty.