Kyrie Irving scored 26 points and LeBron James supplied 20 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers took a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series by downing the Detroit Pistons 101-91 on Friday night at The Palace.

Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the top-seeded Cavaliers, who can close out the Eastern Conference series in Game 4 here on Sunday night.

Tristan Thompson added eight points and 10 rebounds and Matthew Dellavedova chipped in 12 points for Cleveland, which made 12 of 29 3-pointers after tying the NBA postseason record with 20 made 3s in Game 2.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 18 points and Marcus Morris tossed in 16 for Detroit. Andre Drummond added 17 points and seven rebounds, and Reggie Jackson was held to 13 points with 12 assists.

Detroit scored seven straight points in the third quarter to take a three-point lead. Cleveland responded with a 6-0 spurt, then stretched its lead to six late in the quarter with a combination of 3-pointers and offensive rebounds.

J.R. Smith and Love made corner 3-pointers to give Cleveland a 73-69 edge. Thompson scored the team’s next four points on a tip-in and a dunk.

Cleveland carried a 79-73 lead into the fourth quarter. James scored six points in the opening minute of the fourth on a three-point play and 3-pointer to make it 85-76.

A 10-2 Pistons run closed the gap to one before Irving drained a 3-pointer. Smith’s corner three nudged the Cavs’ lead to 95-90.

Then came a flurry of empty possessions for both sides before Irving nailed a corner 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining as the shot clock expired to seal the victory.

All three of the Cavs’ stars reached double digits by halftime, but they needed a James jumper in the final second to take a 54-53 halftime lead. There were 17 lead changes and 12 ties during the half.

Drummond led Detroit with 11 points but didn’t play the last 5:08 after Cleveland began the Hack-A-Dre strategy.

Pistons guard Reggie Bullock was a late scratch because of an inflamed nerve in his left leg.

© Reuters


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