LeBron James scored 32 points - 19 in the second half - and had 12 rebounds and six assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers forced a decisive and fitting finale to this home-sweet-home playoff series with a 74-69 win last night over the visiting Boston Celtics, who have gone from regular-season road kings to postseason road kill.
James, whose jump shot has mysteriously been missing in this series, made two key baskets midway through the fourth quarter to slow a Boston comeback, Wally Szczerbiak hit a three-pointer with 2:10 remaining and Joe Smith dropped three of four free throws in the final 14 seconds.
Delonte West (10 points) was the only other Cavalier in double figures, while Kevin Garnett led Boston with 25 points. Game 7 of the series will be played tomorrow in Boston.
* In some ways, Tayshaun Prince seems like the same player he was when he suddenly went from the bench to playing regularly for the Detroit Pistons during the 2003 playoffs.
Prince slows down opponents with his lanky 6-9, 215-pound frame and basketball IQ. He scores on an array of runners and spin moves around the lane, and from the outside with an awkward stroke.
"Tayshaun is taking the initiative now and that's made the biggest difference in his game," Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said yesterday.
"I'm making shots. Stop the deferring and everything," Prince said. "When you're getting shots and high-percentage shots, you're going to get opportunities. When you do that, your teammates look for you more."
Prince is averaging 16 points in the playoffs, trailing only Richard Hamilton in scoring on the team.
Prince and the Pistons earned a spot in the Eastern Conference final for the sixth straight year, the first team to be that consistent in the playoffs since the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s.
"This is the sixth time, but we only got to the Finals twice," Prince said. "It's nothing to get excited about right now." *