BOSTON — The Cleveland Cavaliers, taking advantage of the absence of both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, got a career-high 29 points and 17 rebounds from Tristan Thompson and ended a 10-game losing streak by beating the Boston Celtics 97-91 Friday night at TD Bank Garden.
Thompson had 21 and 11 rebounds in the first half and was quiet until the fourth quarter when helped repel a Boston charge from a 14-point deficit.
With Boston’s Garnett and Pierce resting sore ankles (and, of course, Rajon Rondo out for the year), the banged-up Cavs (23-52) got 16 points and nine rebounds from Alonzo Gee and 12 points from Wayne Ellington. Kyrie Irving, in his second game back from a shoulder injury, had 11 points, eight assists and five rebounds while going just 4-for-20 from the floor.
Jeff Green led the Celtics (39-37) with 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Shavlik Randolph, coming off the bench, delivered 16 points and seven rebounds but fouled out while playing just 13 minutes.
Boston’s Avery Bradley didn’t finish the game because of a bruised left collarbone.
The Celtics led by eight points in the first half but the Cavaliers caught up and the game was tied at the half. Green hit five straight points to start the second half and Boston led by seven, 62-55, but the Cavs went on a 9-0 run that included back-to-back 3-pointer by Irving, who had been quiet to that point in the game.
Cleveland led by three but then went on a 14-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to go up by 14.
Included in that spurt was a Flagrant-1 foul called on Boston’s Jason Terry, who slammed into CJ Miles in the backcourt the way a Boston Bruin might throw a hockey check. Miles made the free throws and then capped an 8-0 run with a steal and slam.
That gave the Cavaliers their 14-point lead with 9:21 left and the Celtics then started charging back, a 15-5 explosion started and ended by Terry 3-pointers.
Their lead down to four with 5:47 left, Cleveland regained to control on a monster second put-back by Thompson and a basket by Ellington.
NOTES: Garnett missed his eighth straight game with an ankle injury but coach Doc Rivers said his big man will “most likely” play Sunday against Washington. The same should be true with Pierce, who missed his second game in the last three. Pierce’s first absence was for the birth of his son, Prince Paul Pierce, and he then played Wednesday but tweaked an ankle. “I think (Pierce will) be fine by Sunday. It’s just sore, so we’re just not playing him,” Rivers said. The losing streak has people talking change in Cleveland but Byron Scott isn’t worrying about — not publicly, anyway. Remember, injuries have hammered this team, too, with NBA rebounding leader Anderson Varajao (14.4 per game) long gone for the season and Irving just returning from an eight-game absence, with the team losing all eight. “I don’t necessarily think I need to defend myself to the public or especially in the papers,” Scott said before the team left Cleveland for Boston. “I know what I’m doing here. I know what type of job I’m doing. I know what I’m given, I know what we’re working with. I know the situation that we’re under. So I don’t really feel that I need to defend myself. Simple as that.” … The Cavs host Orlando on Sunday. … Boston guard Terrence Williams played despite dislocating his right pinky finger Wednesday night. “I’m going to try to play with (my right hand) behind my back. Try to play like Bob Cousy,” he said before the game.
Knicks 101, Bucks 83: The New York Knicks celebrated their 1973 NBA title team at halftime Friday, and it apparently sparked Carmelo Anthony as he went off in the following quarter to spearhead the Knicks’ 101-83 comeback win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Anthony’s performance was just as impressive as his two previous outings when he scored 50 points against the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, and then 40 points against the Atlanta Hawks the following night.
The 6-foot-7 Anthony, starting at power forward against the much bigger Bucks’ frontline, had 41 points (17-of-28 shooting) and 14 rebounds as he shook off a second-quarter shooting slump when he only scored two points.
Anthony came to life in the third quarter as he notched 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including a stretch where he nailed his first seven shots. His third straight game with 40 points or more tied a franchise record.
J.R. Smith wasn’t to be outdone, as he added 12 points in the pivotal third quarter, on 4-of-5 shooting. Smith finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bucks held a nine-point lead at halftime, but the Knicks outscored Milwaukee 42-21 in the third quarter to take command.
The Bucks (36-39) were led by Brandon Jennings’s 25 points, while J.J. Redick added 18 points while making five 3s.
But the night belonged to the Knicks’ revitalized shooters, who turned a paltry 1-of-12 performance from behind the arc in the first half, into a respectable 3-point shooting effort (12-of-36) for the game, including a red-hot 8-of-13 in the third quarter. The Garden faithful probably knew it would be the Knicks’ night once Jason Kidd ended the third quarter with a three-quarter-court, 3-point heave at the buzzer.
The Knicks (49-26) have now rolled off 11 straight wins, making them the hottest team in the league right now. They hope this torrid stretch carries over to Sunday’s matchup with the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
Anthony tallied 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting in the first quarter as the Knicks and Bucks were deadlocked 19-19 entering the second quarter.
NOTES: Knicks coach Mike Woodson started Anthony at power forward and Tyson Chandler at center, as neither power forward Kenyon Martin (knee) nor reserve big man Marcus Camby (plantar fasciitis) dressed. Martin, who made 10 starts at center in Chandler’s absence, is suffering from a sore right knee — perhaps because he was immediately thrown into the fire after sitting out the first four months of the season as a free agent. … Neither team shot particularly well in the first quarter, as the Knicks shot 36.4 percent, including 12.5 percent from behind the arc. The Bucks shot 33.3 percent in the period.