Cavs hold off late rally by pesky Celtics
LOS ANGELES, USA - Kyrie Irving scored 32 points as the NBA champion Cavaliers escaped with a 124-118 victory over the spirited Boston Celtics in Cleveland on Thursday, December 29 (Friday Manila time).
Trailing by 18 entering the fourth quarter, the Celtics got the deficit to one point 4 times before succumbing.
A driving basket by Isaiah Thomas pulled Boston to 117-116 with just over a minute to play when Irving countered with a driving layup of his own.
Thomas was fouled on the Celtics' next possession and sank both free throws, while Irving departed the game with 47 seconds left with a tight right hamstring.
Irving's absence left the ball in the hands of LeBron James, the Cavaliers superstar who struggled with eight turnovers on the night even as he produced 23 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.
James tried driving past Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who fouled him with 21 seconds to play.
James split the free throws to give the Cavs a 120-118 lead, but left the Celtics with a chance to send the game to overtime or win it at the buzzer with a three-pointer.
Jae Crowder's open look at a three-pointer with 10 seconds left bounced off the rim. Cleveland's Richard Jefferson hauled in the rebound, and the Cavs made 4 free throws in the waning seconds to seal it, giving James reason to celebrate on the eve of his 32nd birthday.
Kevin Love scored 30 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for the Cavs, his 11 points in the third quarter helping Cleveland build a 101-83 lead going into the final frame.
"We let them back in the game, they were making easy shots in the fourth quarter," said Irving, who had 12 assists to go with his 32 points for his fifth double-double in his last seven games. "We've got to be better going forward." – Rappler.com