Circumstances most likely seemed eerily familiar for the Boston Celtics with 1:17 left to play Tuesday night in their game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Sunday night when the two teams played at the “New Garden” the Cavaliers came storming back from an 11 point deficit in the last 4:24 of the contest and defeated their hosts 88-87. Tuesday night Boston held a 76-58 advantage at the beginning of the final period, but they would see their lead shrink to just two points when Cleveland rookie point guard Kyrie Irving drove the lane putting the rock through the hole and making it an 89-87 affair. This time around however, the Celtics held up against the offensive onslaught by their foes and took the game by a final score of 93-90.
Paul Pierce led the way for Boston with 20 points while Kevin and Brandon Bass each added 13 points to help the club get their fifth win in their last six games. Irving was the game’s high scorer with another powerful performance knocking down 21 points while Anderson Varejao became a member of the Association’s most exclusive fraternity “CLUB 20-20” as he put 20 points on the scoreboard and grabbed 20 rebounds off the backboard.
With 3:42 left in the opening period Varejao slammed the ball through the cylinder bringing his team within one point of their opponents at 19-18. The Celtics would pull away in the closing moments ending the quarter on a 9-6 run and holding the upper hand at 28-24. Boston would go on top by double-digits early in the second but Cleveland came roaring back cutting their deficit to four points as Varejao connected on a mid-range jumper with 6:03 remaining making it a 37-33 contest. The Celtics would respond with an offensive flurry of their own and held a comfortable 51-39 advantage at the half.
Boston totally dominated the entire third quarter, as they led by as many as 22 points when Ray Allen drained a 26 foot trey with 2:43 left in the period putting the score at 75-53. With 22 seconds remaining, Alonzo Gee knocked down a basket was fouled on the play then hit his shot at the line and Cleveland had cut their deficit to 76-58 entering the final 12 minutes of play.
The Cavaliers opened the fourth on fire while the Celtics could not get their offensive engine to turn over. Gee buried a 25 foot trey with 6:35 in the game and Boston’s lead was down to 78-71. The Cavaliers would then go on a 16-11 run that culminated in the Irving layoff making it a two point game at 89-87 with 1:17 on the clock. With the crowd at the Q on their feet Garnett responded after a Celtics timeout with a mid-range jumper extending his team’s lead to 91-87. Pierce would knock down two critical shots at the charity stripe with two seconds left making it 93-87; Irving knocked down a three point shot from 22 feet away at the buzzer, but it would be too little too late as the Celtics held on for the win
Pierce scored 20 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in the Boston victory. Garnett had 13 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds and a steal while Bass also put up 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Allen knocked down 12 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals while Jermaine O’Neal back returning to the lineup after being injured added 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and a steal.
Irving scored 21 points, 6 assists and a rebound while Varejao racked up a double-double with 20 points, 20 boards, 2 assists and a steal. Antawn Jamison added 12 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal while Gee came off the bench with 11 points, 4 steals, 3 rebounds and 1 assist. Boston gets back to even at 10-10 with the win and will host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday while Cleveland stands at 8-12 and are off until Friday as they travel to Orlando to take on the Magic.