The C’s led by eight at halftime and by nine with just over five minutes left in the third quarter but wind up with their first 20-point loss in the regular season since a 31-point setback at Cleveland last April 12.
Rajon Rondo has 19 points and 11 assists, but just five and three after halftime. Ray Allen leads Boston with 21 points. The Celts shot a dismal 9-of-41 (21.9 percent) after the break, a majority of them bricks from the outside.
LeBron James scores 36 to pace Cleveland, which now has a six-game lead in the loss column over Boston.
Going from the Eastern Conference elites to the dregs of the NBA, the Celts will next face New Jersey in a matinee Saturday. We will follow all the action right here as they attempt to get going again in the finale of a three-game homestand.
Fourth quarter, 1:30, Cavaliers 104-86: A fan behind us keeps using the word “disgusting” to describe what he is seeing. Hard to argue, with the way this second half has gone.
Fourth quarter, 2:50, Cavaliers 101-85: Marcus Landry has made his Celtics debut as Doc Rivers empties the bench.
Fourth quarter, 2:59, Cavaliers 99-85: A somewhat hard foul administered to Anderson Verajao prompts a wry smile from the Brazilian. Judging by the looks on some faces out there, you could see something happen out of frustration by the Celtics here. Let’s hope they keep their heads.
Doc Rivers is giving a forlorn bunch a pretty stern talking to in the huddle right now.
Fourth quarter, 4:26, Cavaliers 97-83: This is a 49-27 second half for the Cavs and fans are already heading for the exits. Amazing.
Fourth quarter, 5:29, Cavaliers 93-83: This one is vanishing in a deluge of Mo Williams 3-pointers. Williams just buried his third from long range in a span of 76 seconds and what was an eight-point Celtics lead at halftime is looking like a potential runaway win for the Cavs.
And not to beat a dead horse, but it’s nothing but long jumpers for Boston. The few times the Green get inside, layups are missed or shots are blocked, something which has become a bit of an issue in recent games.
Fourth quarter, 6:26, Cavaliers 87-81: Maybe that will wake up the Celtics here. Kendrick Perkins and Anderson Verajao go at it with an exchange of blows, moments after Perk and LeBron James exchanged elbows.
A technical was issued to Verajao.
Fourth quarter, 7:49, Cavaliers 84-78: The Celtics, who shot 60 percent in the first half, were 6-of-20 in the third quarter and are 1-of-7 so far in the fourth. Yikes.
Fourth quarter, 8:27, Cavaliers 82-78: The Cavs have their largest lead after a Delonte West 3-pointer and the Celts need help. Enter Ray Allen.
Fourth quarter, 10:20, Cavaliers 77-74: A J.J. Hickson dunk gives the Cavs the lead for the first time since it was 6-4, and Delonte West adds a layup to stretch it to three.
Fourth quarter, 11:30, Celtics 74-73: A critical quarter for the Celtics is underway. Rajon Rondo remains out there and appears as if he will go the distance.
End of third quarter, Celtics 74-73: LeBron James just has that look in his eye and it spells trouble for the Celtics, who are clinging to the lead.
James gets fouled with 0.4 second to go in the third quarter, makes one of the two free throws and finishes with 11 points in the third. James has 32 for the game after a slow start.
Third quarter, 1:55, Celtics 72-68: LeBron James will go to the line after the timeout to try to get the Cavaliers within two points. They haven’t been that close since it was 12-10 less than five minutes in.
The C’s are taking a ton of jumpers in the third and have lost their stranglehold on the lane. They now own just a two-point advantage in points in the paint (38-36) after dominating that category early on.
Third quarter, 3:19, Celtics 70-64: The crowd absolutely loves it when LeBron James gets whistled for a traveling violation. They’ve been calling for it all night, at least those sitting directly behind me.
Third quarter, 4:27, Celtics 69-62: Kendrick Perkins goes 1-of-2 from the line, which is exactly his average this month. His free throw percentage has actually dropped each month of the season and his overall mark of 57.8 (entering) is easily the worst of his career.
Third quarter, 5:12, Celtics 68-62: The watch is on to see if Rajon Rondo will get any rest this game. It’s 31 minutes and counting for Rondo.
Third quarter, 6:37, Celtics 65-59: LeBron James has scored 15 of the last 22 points for the Cavaliers after netting 11 of their first 37. Safe to say he has warmed up.
Third quarter, 7:05, Celtics 65-59: Another double-double for Rajon Rondo as he records his 10th assist by finding Ray Allen underneath.
LeBron James answers with a 3-pointer and he’s beginning to take over on that end of the floor.
Third quarter, 8:49, Celtics 63-54: Ray Allen has finally missed a 3-pointer after making his first four.
Third quarter, 11:30, Celtics 56-50: The second half gets underway with an Anthony Parker dunk and the Cavs are as close as they’ve been since the first quarter.
Halftime, Celtics 56-48: Shaquille O’Neal left this game midway through the second quarter with a right thumb strain and will not return. The Cavaliers medical staff termed the strain “significant.”
It doesn’t do much to help a Cleveland team getting beaten inside.
Halftime, Celtics 56-48: A strong first 24 minutes for the Celtics, who shoot 60 percent from the floor and control the boards.
It was a clean first half. The two teams combined for just eight turnovers.
Rajon Rondo has 14 points and eight assists and Ray Allen remains hot with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
LeBron James has 21 points but it is a quiet 21, if there is such a thing in one half. He was forced into a ton of jumpers early and only got above the 20-point mark with a late flurry, scoring the Cavs’ last seven points.
Second quarter, 59.5 seconds, Celtics 56-45: Leon Powe just made his Cavs debut and got a great hand from the fans.
Second quarter, 1:03, Celtics 56-45: With Ray Allen’s third 3-pointer, the Celtics improve to 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Second quarter, 2:23, Celtics 50-41: Prior to the game, Doc Rivers joked with reporters that he was going to play the ailing Marquis Daniels a full 48 minutes.
That won’t happen, but Rajon Rondo is doing his best iron man here, having played all 22 minutes.
Hard to argue with Rivers’ reasoning here. Rondo has 14 points and eight assists.
Second quarter, 2:38, Celtics 50-41: The C’s continue to pound the paint as Kendrick Perkins scores on a little hook. They own a 32-20 advantage in points in the pain and a 21-13 edge in rebounds.
Second quarter, 5:39, Celtics 42-35: Anderson Varejao has been the bright spot for Cleveland. He and Rasheed Wallace are having a pretty good battle.
Varejao is tied with LeBron James for the Cavs’ lead with 10 points. He also has a pair of big offensive boards among the five rebounds he has hauled in.
Second quarter, 6:58, Celtics 42-31: Rajon Rondo has yet to sit down, having played all 17-plus minutes thus far. My guess is Ray Allen will take his spot in a bit to run alongside Nate Robinson.
Second quarter, 7:37, Celtics 42-29: Rasheed Wallace seems to have this every-other-game thing going on all season. He seems to be on his game in this one.
Wallace has nine points on 3-of-3 shooting. He did, however, just allow Anderson Varejao to sneak in for another offensive rebound.
Second quarter, 9:45, Celtics 40-27: We are getting another look at the Nate Robinson-Rajon Rondo backcourt. Robinson just took the ball up and worked past a pick to nail a jumper.
Rasheed Wallace follows it up with a 3-pointer and Robinson buries another moments later as the Celtics take their largest lead.
End of first quarter, Celtics 31-21: Rajon Rondo has been spectacular (12 points, six assists) and the Celts are shooting 70 percent, but the defense is standing out in this one, forcing the Cavs into a boatload of long jumpers.
Marquis Daniels gets credit for much of that. LeBron James (10 points, 4-of-8 shooting) has scored just once in the lane.
Boston has outscored Cleveland in the paint 22-6 and owns a 14-6 advantage on the boards. That’s what we call interior dominance.
First quarter, 2:04, Celtics 25-19: If dunks and alley-oops and things of that nature are any indication of Kevin Garnett’s health, then Celtics fans have to be feeling a bit better of late.
KG has had a handful of such baskets lately and has one against the Cavs, with a second taken away due to a travel. He is attacking the rim more often and Rajon Rondo is looking for him on lobs that were completely absent a couple of weeks ago.
First quarter, 3:08, Celtics 21-16: With Kendrick Perkins’ block of Antawn Jamison moments ago, it made Jamison 0-of-2 from the floor and continued to kill his already suffering field goal percentage numbers.
Jamison entered at 40.0 percent. His previous low for a season was 43.6. He is 22.2 percent from 3-point range. His previous low in that category was 28.6.
Those are some pretty alarming disparities.
First quarter, 4:41, Celtics 21-12: Whose game is it? It’s Rajon’s game! OK, so it doesn’t have the same ring it did when Michael Jordan was the recipient of Magic Johnson’s only notable line in his stint as an announcer, but wow, did Rondo come to play.
The little man has 10 points and five assists, factoring in all 10 of the Celtics’ baskets thus far. Boston is shooting 76.9 percent (10-of-13) from the floor.
Just a reminder for those of you without a TV tonight, this is a TNT game and it will have prolonged timeouts. Be patient.
First quarter, 7:18, Celtics 12-10: Rajon Rondo is just taking it to Mo Williams here. In less than five minutes, Rondo has 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting. It would be 12, but he missed his only two free throws.
First quarter, 8:40, Celtics 8-6: Less than three minutes go by before Kendrick Perkins sets his first illegal screen.
First quarter, 10:24, Celtics 4-3: Rajon Rondo takes each of the first three Celtics shots and then is fouled on a fourth straight attempt to get to the line. Safe to say he is intent on being aggressive tonight.
First quarter, 11:55, 0-0: We are underway and the building has a buzz we haven’t seen as much of lately. I don’t think the Lakers game even had it, perhaps because it was a matinee which drew a few more families.
Let’s see if the C’s can feed off it. They are just 16-9 at home this season.
8:12 p.m.: The Celtics have a gazillion pregame traditions, before, during and after introductions. Another has surfaced in the acquisition of Nate Robinson.
Near the end of the national anthem, Robinson likes to run down the length of the row of teammates and pat them all on the back, getting to the last one just as “home of the brave” is uttered.
Kevin Garnett just screamed at us from high above the court and we’re just about set to go.
8:02 p.m.: In case anyone was wondering if the flu bug which has hit a handful of Celtics is still circulating, Doc Rivers said that aside from Marquis Daniels, it seems to have run its course.
Speaking of Daniels, he did seem a bit slow getting ready in the locker room, at one point blankly staring into his locker. Perhaps that’s just his pregame routine, but his energy level bears watching.
7:38 p.m.: Greetings from the Garden, where we just got the state of the team address from Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who confirmed that Paul Pierce is out today and likely until next week.
“Paul’s out the next couple of games for sure, most likely,” Rivers said before confirming that Marquis Daniels would be able to take Pierce’s spot despite battling the flu.
“Marquis is gonna give us what he has,” Rivers said. “I didn’t even want to tell him we needed a warm body because his body is warm. We’ll see. You never know. Sometimes these guys come out and play great. So you just don’t know what he’ll be able to give.”
Daniels will get the unenviable task of defending LeBron James, and he will have a committee of support, according to Rivers. Tony Allen will be the first off the bench to mark James, and help could come from Brian Scalabrine, Marcus Landry and even Kevin Garnett, Rivers said.
Daniels starts alongside Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins. The Cavaliers go with James, Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, Antawn Jamison and Shaquille O’Neal.
Cleveland will also have former Celtic Leon Powe in uniform and available. Powe has yet to play this season following left knee surgery. He appeared in 189 games with the Green over three seasons, winning over Celtics fans and the team with his inspired play.
“It’s great that he’s playing. … In Leon’s case you’re just happy he’s playing basketball,” Rivers said. “When he got hurt, you kept hearing people saying he’s never going to play again. Clearly they don’t know who Leon Powe is. If anyone is going to play again it’ll be Leon and he is. And it’s great.”
Rivers was asked if he wished the Celtics had re-signed Powe.
“He’s a great guy, a great spirit,” Rivers said. “We needed to go out and get a Rasheed Wallace and do things like that. I just wanted [Powe] to get a job. I would love to have Leon. I would like to have Leon on the bench next to me playing for the rest of his career. I really do. I think he’s that good of a guy to have in the locker room. So for me I just wanted him to play basketball. I’m very happy for him.”
6:15 p.m.: In a season filled with challenges, Celtics coach Doc Rivers may face his toughest yet when Boston hosts Cleveland in a nationally televised tilt at TD Garden.
With Paul Pierce (thumb, flu) doubtful and backup swingman Marquis Daniels (flu) questionable, Rivers faces the prospect of finding players who can defend LeBron James.
Certainly Tony Allen will get a shot, and perhaps even the newly acquired Marcus Landry, but Boston could be up against it if James gets going. Even with Pierce and Daniels marking him in the season opener back on Oct. 27, James went for 38 points and eight assists in the Celtics’ 95-89 win.
However, the Garden has been a house of horrors for James and the Cavaliers. Including the 2008 playoffs, James has averaged 26.0 points (almost two below his career average) on just 35.3 percent shooting in his last seven games here, all losses. Factoring in that memorable seven-game series, Cleveland has dropped nine consecutive games in Boston overall.
The Cavs recently lost three straight, allowing the C’s to get within five games in the loss column. If Boston is going to make any late push toward the top spot in the Eastern Conference, a win at home is imperative.
We will update you on the lineups as we get closer to the 8 p.m. tip.