for this game

Likely minus Hughes, Cavaliers aim to defend home court

May 29, 2007 - 3:05 PM Detroit at Cleveland 8:00 pm EDT Eastern Conference Finals Pistons lead, 2-1

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- After rebounding from two heartbreaking losses on the road, the Cleveland Cavaliers' resiliency will be tested once again.

The Cavaliers host the Detroit Pistons in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday.

Larry Hughes, Cleveland's point guard and third-leading scorer during the playoffs, is unlikely to play as he tore the plantar fascia in his left foot in Cleveland's 88-82 victory over Detroit in Game Three on Sunday. He played just seven minutes in the third quarter and not at all in the fourth.

"If the game was today, I couldn't play," Hughes said on Monday. "I'll have to see tomorrow how it feels. Like I said, if I'm able to help the team in any way, I'll be out there playing."

This would mark the second consecutive year that Hughes has missed time in the playoffs against the Pistons, as he left the team for four games during the conference semifinals following the death of his younger brother last season.

Aside from LeBron James stepping up with 32 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in Game Three, the Cavaliers benefited from the play of Hughes' replacement, rookie Daniel Gibson.

A second-round pick from Texas, the 6-2 guard filled in for Hughes on Sunday with nine points, including the second of his two 3-pointers late in the fourth that seemed to turn the momentum in the favor of Cleveland for the final time.

"I think that throughout the season coach (Mike Brown) has prepped me for that situation," Gibson said. "I've gotten a lot of minutes, so I think it's prepared me for this situation where if Larry can't go, I feel like I can step in and take care of business."

Gibson's most impressive contribution may have been on the defensive end of the court, where he hounded Pistons guard - and playoff stalwart - Chauncey Billups, who continued to struggle with sloppy play and poor shooting. The All-Star guard scored 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting Sunday.

"That's something I do when I come in the game," Gibson said. "You know, on the defensive end, pick up full court, try to change the tempo a little bit and just play as hard as I can. Get up and guard those guys and get in tune."

The play from the rookie supplemented the supporting cast for James that the Cavaliers thought they had entering the season. Cleveland got contributions from their secondary options as the main components of his supporting cast - Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden and Sasha Pavlovic - combined for 41 points on 17-of-33 shooting in Game Three after two-game totals of 58 points and 26-of-57 shooting.

Detroit does not lack for confidence, however. The Pistons are 18-0 in series they have led, 2-0, including last season's series that saw the Cavaliers win three straight after trailing 2-0 before Detroit took Games Six and Seven.

Even though Tayshaun Prince found his shooting stroke, bouncing back from a 1-for-19 start in the series by scoring 13 points on 6-for-13 on Sunday, Billups and Richard Hamilton struggled.

The Pistons' All-Star backcourt shot 6-for-22 from the field and will need to improve that mark if they hope to avoid a series tied at two games apiece heading back to Detroit for Game Five on Thursday.

    DETROIT 87

    May 29 11:08 PM
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  • mark we have a geraldo sighting!

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  • mark the cavs are gonna be in deep trouble if they don't get a quick start to this half

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