Irving ignites Cavs to fourth-straight playoff win
AUBURN HILLS, MICH.
Kyrie Irving scored 20 of his 31 points in the second half, and the Cleveland Cavaliers finished off a four-game sweep of the Detroit Pistons, holding on for a 100-98 victory on Sunday night.
The Cavs advance to the second round to play either Atlanta or Boston.
LeBron James had 22 points for Cleveland, but it was Irving who made the biggest shots all night. His midcourt buzzer beater put the Cavs up 81-78 after the third quarter, and with Cleveland clinging to a one-point lead in the final minute, he calmly sank a 3-pointer from the right wing with 42 seconds remaining.
Detroit still had a chance at the end, but Reggie Jackson’s wild shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
Marcus Morris led Detroit with 24 points, but the Pistons lost to Cleveland for the 12th straight game in the postseason, equaling an NBA record. Detroit has also lost 10 straight playoff games overall. Its most recent postseason appearance before this one was in 2009, and the Pistons were swept by Cleveland in the first round that year, too.
Irving scored 10 quick points in a flurry early in the third quarter, and after his big shot in the final minute, he walked over to the bench, calm as could be. He was more demonstrative after the final buzzer, waving goodbye to the Detroit fans as the Cavs moved on.
Cleveland shot 43 percent from 3-point range in the first three games of the series. The Cavs weren’t as sharp Sunday, but they kept putting shots up from long distance, going 13 of 36. J.R. Smith was 5 of 7, including a heave from well behind the line that beat the buzzer and gave Cleveland a 95-86 lead.
Detroit made one more run, playing a smaller lineup toward the end and earning a chance to win it or force overtime. Jackson missed from near the top of the key, and although he pleaded for a foul, his team’s season was over.
The Los Angeles Lakers beat Seattle 12 straight times in the playoffs from 1980-89. Cleveland has tied that mark with its streak against the Pistons.
Cavaliers: Mo Williams (sore left knee) did not play.
Pistons: Reggie Bullock (left leg) missed the game. ... Detroit hasn’t won a playoff game since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals in 2008 against Boston. ... Tobias Harris scored 23 points, and Andre Drummond had 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Former Cavaliers coach Byron Scott will not return to coach the Los Angeles Lakers, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Sunday night.
Scott coached the Lakers for the two worst seasons in the 16-time NBA champion franchise’s history, going 38-126.
The Lakers are making a clean break from the Kobe Bryant era by firing the coach who shepherded the superstar guard’s farewell season, but couldn’t coax many wins out of an otherwise dismal roster. Los Angeles finished with the NBA’s second-worst record this season at 17-65, losing four more games than in its previous franchise-worst season in 2014-15.
Scott received praise from general manager Mitch Kupchak last week for his handling of the final months for Bryant, who was Scott’s teammate during his rookie season with the Lakers 20 years ago. Bryant scored 60 points in his final game April 13, a win over Utah.