The Cleveland Cavaliers utilised the long ball to eventually make short work of the Detroit Pistons.
LeBron James scored 27 points, J.R. Smith had 21 on seven triples, and the Cavs pulled away for a 107-90 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons on Wednesday to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
“I was open, so I shot the ball and made them,” said the streaky-shooting Smith, who buried 7-of-11 from behind the arc. “That’s kind of simple for me.”
The top-seeded Cavs hit 20-of-38 3-pointers to match the 2015 Golden State Warriors, the 2011 Dallas Mavericks and the 1996 Seattle SupersSonics for most triples made in a post-season contest.
“I heard we set an NBA record for threes made and it was great to be part of history when you’re going along a path that you are trying to accomplish” James said. “I can say I had two of them.
James said the long ball is not his forte.
“We have shooters and they are designated snipers,” he added. “I’m not one of them, I’m like a tanker or something like that.”
Kyrie Irving tallied 22 points while Kevin Love had 16 with 10 rebounds for the top-seeded Cavaliers, who outscored the eighth seeds 52-37 in the second half.
“That was one of things we focused on,” Love said. “We made adjustments, we were able to get our rotations right and it opened up a lot of threes for us.”
The Pistons started the third quarter on a 7-0 surge to go ahead 60-55. The Cavs caught fire, however, going on a 16-2 tear, highlighted by five triples to open up a 76-62 cushion with 3:26 left in the period. James hit two threes while Irving, Love and Smith added one apiece.
“They came out and hit us,” James said. “We had to stay calm, defend and wear on them.”
The Cavs outscored their guests 27-15 in the third stanza and carried a 68-62 lead into the final frame. The gap grew to 19 before cruising home with a 10th consecutive win in the series.
“We did what we’re supposed to do,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “Now we got to go to Detroit in a hostile environment and have to play well.”
Andre Drummond scored 20 points for the Pistons, who were victimized by the long ball.
“They shot the ball very well from outside, 20-of 38 is pretty good three-point shooting,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. “You have to give them a lot of credit for that.”
Drummond explained it was more than the 3-pointers that left them in an 0-2 hole.
“It was a rough one today, we just couldn’t match their intensity,” he offered. “They can beat you inside and out.
“Our mindset now is we have to go home and get ready for a game on Friday. We need this one. We have to shake off these two losses and get a win.”
Miami Heat 115, Charlotte Hornets 103: Dwyane Wade scored 28 points, Hassan Whiteside hit all eight field goals en route to 17 with 13 rebounds, and the Heat beat the visiting Hornets to grab a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Slovenian Goran Dragic had 18 points, Luol Deng finished with 16 for fourth-seeded Miami, which led 72-60 at halftime after a 43-point second-quarter explosion and stayed in front.
Miami hit 16-of-19 shots in the decisive frame, including two 3s apiece from Dragic and Deng and another from Justise Winslow.
Kemba Walker scored 29 and Al Jefferson had 25 for fifth-seeded Hornets, who made just 1-of-16 triples in their 12th straight playoff loss. Frenchman Nicolas Batum left the game with 10:43 remaining with a severe left ankle sprain.
•LA Clippers 102, Portland Trail Blazers 81: Chris Paul scored 25 points, DeAndre Jordan ripped down 18 rebounds and the fourth-seeded Clippers used a dominant 35-20 fourth quarter to beat the visiting Trail Blazers for a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference opening round series.
Damian Lillard and Mason Plumlee netted 17 points apiece for fifth-seeded Portland, which heads home for Saturday’s game 3 following a ninth straight playoff road loss.
Thibodeau hired to coach Timberwolves
Minneapolis: The Minnesota Timberwolves hired Tom Thibodeau to guide their NBA team on Wednesday, making the former Chicago Bulls bench boss the head coach and president of basketball operations.
The Timberwolves also brought in Scott Layden as general manager. Layden was the San Antonio Spurs’ assistant general manager after previously working in the front office for the New York Knicks and Utah Jazz.
Thibodeau signed a five-year deal worth approximately $10 million annually, US media reported.
Thibodeau’s first NBA job was as an assistant to Bill Musselman during the Timberwolves’ expansion season of 1989-90. Thibodeau was fired by the Bulls last summer after a falling out with management.
Timberwolves’ interim coach Sam Mitchell was given his walking papers after the team finished 29-53 in 2015-16. He took over after former coach Flip Saunders died in October.
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