Basketball: Top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers outlast hot Detroit Pistons in Game One

Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots over Steve Blake #22 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in Cleveland on Sunday.
Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots over Steve Blake #22 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in Cleveland on Sunday.PHOTO: AFP

CLEVELAND (AFP) - Cleveland's top trio of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 81 points on Sunday as the Cavaliers battled to a 106-101 victory over determined Detroit in their NBA playoff opener.

The Pistons, back in the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, did all they could to steal an away win, draining 15 three-pointers as they shot 52 per cent from long range.

Detroit led at halftime and entering the fourth quarter. A three-pointer from Reggie Bullock with 11:03 left in the final period saw the Pistons match their largest lead of the contest at 83-76.

The Cavs called a timeout to get James back in the game and less than two minutes later it was tied at 83-83 and Cleveland were on their way to a win.

James finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

Irving added 31 points and six assists and Love contributed 28 points and 13 rebounds for the top-seeded Cavs, who host game two on Wednesday.

Irving was playing in his first post-season game since he injuring a knee in last year's NBA Finals, while James played in his 179th career post-season contest - tied with Michael Jordan for 17th in NBA history.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 21 points for the Pistons and Marcus Morris scored 20 - but just one in the second half.

Andre Drummond finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds for Detroit. Reggie Jackson had 17 points and seven assists but was handed a technical foul late in the game when he charged toward official Derrick Stafford to complain after a no-foul call.

While James, Love and Irving were outstanding, they received little help from their supporting cast.

JR Smith scored nine points while shooting and Matthew Dellavedova added just seven off the bench.

The Cavaliers are trying to get back to the NBA Finals, after falling last year to the Golden State Warriors in the championship series.

Elsewhere in the East on Sunday, the Miami Heat - who won two titles with James before he opted to return to his home state in a bid to lead the Cavs to a crown - hosted the Charlotte Hornets.