CLEVELAND (AP) – LeBron James crossed midcourt and launched the ball toward the basket more than 40 feet away as the horn sounded.

As Cleveland’s star, the Detroit Pistons, 20,000 fans and a TV audience watched the shot’s arching flight, James never stopped running.

“I was going to chase it until it went in the hoop,” he said.

Off the backboard, through the rim, then the net.

It was halftime. It was over.

James banked in a stunning 3-pointer at the end of the first half and finished with 38 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Cavaliers embarked on their quest for a first NBA championship with a 102-84 win over the Pistons in Game 1 on Saturday.

James’ 41-footer demoralized the Pistons and gave the Cavs the league’s most dominant team – home or away – during the regular season, momentum and a 12-point halftime lead.

Cleveland held off one second-half surge by Detroit while James was on the bench and closed out the Pistons, who will try to even the best-of-seven series in Game 2 on Tuesday night.

To do that, Detroit will have to devise something to slow the brilliant James, who had his way for 41 minutes. The likely MVP went 13-of-20 from the field, 11-of-14 from the line and didn’t commit a turnover. Cleveland had only five miscues, a postseason franchise record.

“It’s tough when he is going like that,” Pistons forward Antonio McDyess said. “No matter what you do; trap, he’s going to make that play; contest shots, he’s making shots. He’s going to the bucket and being fouled. It’s just tough.”

Asked about his range afterward, James paused.

“Uh,” he said. “Pretty much unlimited.”

So, it seems, is everything else about him.

The Pistons have seen James’ act in the playoffs before, and still don’t know how to deal with him.

Mavericks 105, Spurs 97

SAN ANTONIO – Relax now, Dallas Mavericks: the playoff road drought is over.

Getting a postseason road victory for the first time since their NBA finals run in 2006, the Mavericks rode Josh Howard’s 25 points and a clutch fourth quarter to start the playoffs with a 105-97 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night.

The sixth-seeded Mavericks, who had lost nine consecutive playoff road games, took a big Game 1 win over their Texas rivals in typically tough San Antonio. It was just the fourth home playoff loss since 2007 for the Spurs.

Tim Duncan scored 27 points, and Tony Parker had 24 for the Spurs.

Game 2 is Monday night in San Antonio.


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