LeBron and Co. Cruise To a 3-0 Series Lead In Detroit

Francisco E. VelazquezCorrespondent IApril 25, 2009

AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 24:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers gets to the basket for a dunk past Rasheed Wallace #30 of the Detroit Pistons in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the Palace of Auburn Hills on April 24, 2009 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

With 5:57 still left in the fourth quarter, the Detroit Pistons were still very much in game three of their playoff series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Or were they?

Down by nine, 69-60, when a Piston's timeout was taken just under six minutes left, the crowd should have been revving up for one final push to win the game. Instead, though only needing three possessions, the crowd began to file out of The Palace.

They knew it. It was over.

The game was well in the hands of the Cavaliers as they would eventually steal and alley-oop their way to a 79-68 victory Friday night in Auburn Hills.

The beginning of the end came after the Pistons had held the Cavs to only nine points in the third quarter. However, once the fourth quarter began, a strong push by LeBron James was clearly evident as he scored 11 of his 25 in the final period.

By no coincidence at all, the Cavs went on an 18-2 run during that span, which began after the game's final tie score. The Cavs would outscore the Pistons 26-15 in the last quarter.

Richard Hamilton had a team—high 15 points but committed several turnovers in key possessions that could've stopped the late run by the Cavs.

Still, Hamilton didn't have too much help.

The Pistons offense committed 15 turnovers while it seemed as though only Tayshaun Prince was interested in rebounding the ball at times.

The Pistons fired out the gate beginning the game on a quick 8-0 run to also fire up the home crowd. Yet, Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, and Kwame Brown, (who got a surprisingly good amount of time on the floor) didn't do too much.

Prior to the game, Pistons Head Coach Michael Curry said he would need Wallace and Prince to have big games for them to compete. That didn't go so well.

"This is killing me. I can't even lie," Richard Hamilton said.

Prior to the fourth quarter while LeBron—obviously frustrated by what he felt were a lack of calls by the officials—struggled to get shots up, Joe Smith helped pick up the slack with a career playoff-high 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 13 points. But the star was, of course, LeBron.

Finishing just one assist shy of a triple—double, LeBron also had 11 rebounds to go along with a fabulous alley-oop midway through the late run that deflated the home team's—and crowd's—hopes of a win.

So now the Pistons have dug a 3-0 series deficit, facing elimination at home on Sunday.

But maybe, just like Friday night's crowd...they know it.