NBA: Cavaliers have Pistons on the ropes

The top-seeded Cavaliers can close out the Eastern Conference series in game four in Detroit against the Pistons on Sunday night.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (R) passes around Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond during a first-round NBA playoff game.   -  AP

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 66 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers took a 3-0 stranglehold lead over the Detroit Pistons with a 101-91 playoff win on Friday.

Kyrie Irving scored a team high 26 points as all three of the Cavaliers stars reached double figures by halftime in the road victory. It was the fourth time this season Cleveland's marquee trio have scored at least 20 points each. James finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists and extended his first round win streak to 16 straight games. He is aiming for a fourth consecutive first round playoff sweep.

The top-seeded Cavaliers can close out the Eastern Conference series in game four in Detroit against the Pistons on Sunday night.

Irving said the Cavaliers have done a good job this postseason of staying focussed on the task at hand.

"We're not necessarily concerned with the B.S. that's going on outside of the locker room," Irving said. "We know what to expect and we execute the game plan and we are executing at a really high level on both ends of the floor. We may have some mishaps, but we come in and we look each other in the eye and we communicate the next play. We just have to continue to play at a high level."

Tristan Thompson finished with eight points and 10 rebounds and Matthew Dellavedova added 12 points for Cleveland, which made 12 of 29 three-pointers after tying the league playoff record with 20 threes in game two. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 18 points and Marcus Morris scored 16 for the Pistons. Andre Drummond added 17 points and seven rebounds, and Reggie Jackson was held to 13 points.

Detroit scored seven straight points in the third quarter to take a three-point lead. Cleveland responded with a 6-0 burst, then stretched its lead to six late in the quarter. J.R. Smith and Love made three-pointers to give Cleveland a 73-69 edge. Thompson scored the Cavs' next four points on an easy tip-in and a dunk.

"I have to continue to be aggressive," said Love. "These two guys over here (James and Irving) have been constant on me about that."

Cleveland took a 79-73 lead into the fourth quarter. James scored six points in the opening minute of the final quarter on a three-point play and another from beyond the arc to make it 85-76.

Leonard shines for Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs also took a 3-0 led in their Western Conference series by defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 96-87.

In Memphis, Kawhi Leonard scored 32 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 to lead the Spurs over the Grizzlies at the FedExForum. Zach Randolph had 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies. Matt Barnes also had a double-double with 17 points and 11 boards.

A JaMychal Green layup gave the Grizzlies a 73-70 lead to start the fourth quarter, but the Spurs recovered. San Antonio scored nine straight for a 79-73 advantage with just over eight minutes remaining and never trailed again.

The injury plagued Grizzlies learned Friday that forward Jarell Martin will miss the remainder of the playoffs with a sore left foot.

Celtics kindle hope with away win

The Boston Celtics breathed life into their playoff hopes by holding on to defeat the host Atlanta Hawks 111-103.

Boston won despite blowing a 19-point third quarter lead, giving coach Brad Stevens his first career NBA postseason victory. Isaiah Thomas scored a career high 42 points for the Celtics who cut the Hawks best-of-seven series lead to 2-1.

Game four is set for Sunday at the Boston Garden.

Results on Friday in the first round of the NBA playoffs (series best-of-seven)

Eastern Conference: At Detroit - Cleveland 101 Detroit 91 (Cleveland leads series 3-0); At Atlanta - Boston 111 Atlanta 103 (Atlanta leads series 2-1).

Western Conference: At Memphis - San Antonio 96 Memphis 87 (San Antonio leads series 3-0).

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