CLEVELAND - With a helping hand from a teammate even younger than him, LeBron James pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers as close as they've ever been to an NBA title.
James scored 25 points - 13 in the fourth quarter - and rookie Daniel Gibson added a season-high 21 as the Cavaliers evened the Eastern Conference finals with a 91-87 victory over the Detroit Pistons in Game 4 Tuesday night.
The 21-year-old Gibson made 12 free throws, Drew Gooden added 19 points and Eric Snow hit a crucial free throw in the final seconds for the Cavaliers, who have never played in the finals, and now need two victories to get there.
Game 5 is Thursday night in Auburn Hills, Mich.
The Cavs are making just their third visit to the conference finals, and each time they've been tied 2-2 before losing in six games. When he was drafted, James promised to bring the championship-starved city a title and he's closing in on one quicker than anyone expected.
''The series is a lot better being 2-2 than 3-1 and going back to Detroit,'' James said. ''I had to be aggressive in the fourth quarter and step up.''
Chauncey Billups scored 23 points, Rip Hamilton 19 and Tayshaun Prince 15 for the Pistons, who needed last-second wins to go up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series and are suddenly the team looking for answers.
In the final minutes, it was the more-experienced Pistons who couldn't come up with the big play.
With Detroit down 88-85, Rasheed Wallace blocked a shot in the lane but Billups rushed a 3-pointer that missed. On Cleveland's next possession, Snow, who only played 1:05, got fouled following a scramble for a loose ball.
Snow's free throw put the Cavaliers ahead by four before Antonio McDyess' tip-in got the Pistons within 89-87 with 4.7 seconds left.
James was fouled, and Cleveland's superstar - whose poor free-throw shooting has been one of his only flaws - calmly knocked down both foul shots to make it 91-87 with four seconds remaining.
Wallace missed a 3-pointer, James hauled in his seventh rebound to go with 11 assists and Cleveland had one of the biggest wins in its 37-year history.
Only the 1976 and 1992 Cavaliers won two games in a conference finals.
After a three-point play by James, Wallace's jumper put the Pistons up 77-74 with 7:29 left, but the Cavs responded with a 6-0 run, capped by Sasha Pavlovic's layup that forced the Pistons to call time.
As he stormed off the floor, Wallace was called for a technical foul - his fifth of these playoffs - by referee Joe Forte for throwing his headband in frustration as Cleveland fans sensed a change in momentum.
Gooden hit two jumpers and James knocked down a step-back 20-footer to make it 87-79 with 3:21 remaining.
The Pistons, though, drew on the experience up and down their vast playoff resumes and nearly came back.