Celtics Avenge Loss to Cleveland Cavaliers, Earn Fourth Straight Win

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Celtics Avenge Loss to Cleveland Cavaliers, Earn Fourth Straight WinFinal: Celtics 106, Cavaliers 87. The Celtics have gotten their comeuppance. Last month’s disappointing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers is long forgotten, and the C’s have gotten even with a decisive win over the Cavs on their home floor.

Rajon Rondo leads the way with 23 points, 12 assists and five rebounds, while Kevin Garnett adds 11 points and 10 boards for his eighth double-double of the season.

Anderson Varejao gets 16 and 12 in the losing effort.

The C’s have no time to celebrate. Now it’s back home to Boston, where they’ll take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night at the TD Garden.

Fourth quarter, 1:34, Celtics 99-84: Doc Rivers is emptying his bench. Von Wafer is already in the game, and the two rookies — Luke Harangody and Avery Bradley — are about to enter as well.

We have officially entered garbage time, folks.

Fourth quarter, 5:33, Celtics 93-73: Nate Robinson just drained a huge 3, giving the Celtics a 20-point lead for the first time.

Stick a fork in the Cavaliers. They’re done.

Fourth quarter, 7:01, Celtics 88-71: The Cavs are going with the perfect “instant offense” lineup — four outside shooters, and Anderson Varejao in the middle to pull down all the rebounds when they miss.

The first play sees the Cavs’ shooters space the floor and Varejao get an easy layup. He’s now got 14 and 12, the one bright spot on an otherwise sluggish effort from the Cavs.

Fourth quarter, 8:31, Celtics 86-69: When the Celtics start slipping, they can count on Rajon Rondo to bring them back. A driving layup from Rondo here pushes the lead back to 17.

Rondo now has 23 points, nine assists and five rebounds to lead the way for Boston.

Fourth quarter, 9:48, Celtics 82-69: The Cavs get a quick 4-0 burst on jumpers from Ramon Sessions and Antawn Jamison; meanwhile, the C’s offense has started sputtering as they increasingly settle for jumpers.

This one’s not over yet. The C’s still need to finish this game with effort.

End of third quarter, Celtics 80-65: Defense wins championships. It also wins regular-season games against Cleveland in late November.

The Celtics are holding the Cavaliers to 24-of-65 shooting, just 36.9 percent, and they hold a sizable lead with 12 minutes to play.

Last time they visited the Cavs, the Celtics’ game was fraught with inefficient offense and turnovers. Not the case this time around — they’re outplaying the Cavs, and it’s showing on the scoreboard.

Third quarter, 2:02, Celtics 76-61: KG’s back. That was fast.

And just to quell any doubts about his health, the Celtics’ forward has piled up four points and two rebounds since coming back onto the floor. He’s now got 10 and eight overall, and he’s headed to the line with a chance to put the C’s up by a game-high 16.

Ankle? What ankle?

Third quarter, 5:36, Celtics 68-56: With KG off the floor, it’s been all about the perimeter game. Of their 12 third-quarter points, the Celtics have gotten six from Rajon Rondo and four from Ray Allen. The post presence is gone.

In this matchup, it’s probably just as well. No need for the C’s to anger the beast that is Anderson Varejao by pushing the ball down low.

The C’s remain in control, still up double digits. But if a couple of jumpers clank out, the Cavs are back in the game.

Third quarter, 7:05, Celtics 65-54: Glen Davis has finally entered for a limping Kevin Garnett. That’s the smart play. Keep the Big Ticket out of trouble.

The Celtics’ other starting big man still is on the floor and going strong. Shaquille O’Neal is at the line now — he’s got six points and six rebounds for the C’s. Without KG’s presence down low, it’ll be big if Shaq can step up.

Third quarter, 8:31, Celtics 63-51: Kevin Garnett is trying to play through some apparently pretty bad ankle pain. On one hand, he’s a trooper for battling through it, but on the other, it’s a risky proposition for the Celtics.

The C’s have a double-digit lead in the second half. If they have any doubts at all about KG’s health, they should let him rest. There’s no point in taking a major gamble on KG’s season — keeping him in good shape long-term should be priority one.

Halftime, Celtics 56-45: Rajon Rondo might be dogged by foot soreness all season, but as long as he keeps taking over games, the Celtics won’t mind. Rondo has 13 points, four assists and two rebounds early, and the C’s lead the Cavs by double digits at halftime.

Anderson Varejao has been a beast as usual against the Celtics — his energy has yielded eight points and nine boards for Cleveland.

If the Celtics can limit their turnovers and capitalize when the Cavs make theirs, they should be in good shape in the second half.

Second quarter, 2:57, Celtics 52-40: When did this happen? The Celtics have come out of nowhere to take a 12-point lead. It’s all about the Cavs’ mistakes and the C’s transition game.

First Paul Pierce knocks down a 3, then KG makes a heads-up play to tip a loose ball down the court to Rajon Rondo for a fast-break bucket.

The C’s are rolling. They’re on a 16-4 run.

Second quarter, 4:27, Celtics 44-38: As usual, the Celtics’ unsung bench hero is Marquis Daniels. Playing in place of the foul-troubled Paul Pierce, Daniels has piled up seven points and four rebounds, getting the C’s into transition with his hustle plays on defense.

Daniels never gets the respect of the big-name bench guys like Nate and Big Baby, but he’s playing really well when he gets the minutes. He’s helped the C’s get out to a six-point lead in the second quarter.

Second quarter, 5:48, Celtics 39-35: This game is getting sloppy. First Nate Robinson tries to run the break with his head down, gets caught in traffic and almost loses the ball; then the Cavs take over and Mo Williams wings one downcourt to J.J. Hickson, who drops it out of bounds. Both teams are making mistakes with the ball. It’s ugly.

The C’s lost in Cleveland last time because of their 19 turnovers. This time they’re apparently trying to lose the turnover battle again, but the Cavs are staying neck and neck at 6-6.

Second quarter, 7:48, Celtics 32-29: The C’s have their first lead of the quarter, thanks to a 3-point corner bomb from Nate Robinson.

Nate has been trying to do a bit much so far in this one, chucking up a ton of shots and even riskily boxing out his own teammate (Glen Davis) for a rebound. But he hits the big shot here to give Boston a lead, so it’s hard to be too hard on him.

Nate and Big Baby have been just the offensive jolt the C’s needed to get back into this game. They’re now on an 18-8 run.

Second quarter, 10:30, Cavs 27-23: The Cavs are known for having a deep bench loaded with scorers, and this game is no exception. A monster dunk off an offensive rebound by Ryan Hollins gives the Cavs a 10-0 edge in bench scoring.

Paul Pierce is about to check back in. He’s been out for the last 11 minutes due to foul trouble — can he regain his focus now? The C’s could really use it.

End of first quarter, Cavs 23-21: The biggest thing keeping the Celtics alive in this game is the instant offense of Rajon Rondo.

Rondo’s made a name for himself as a distributor, but he’s been carrying the load himself in this first quarter, with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He even makes a really heads-up play at the buzzer, running into Ramon Sessions in the act of a buzzer-beating 3, getting three free throws.

The play would be even better, though, if Rondo could make his free throws. He won’t be usurping Paul Pierce anytime soon as the Celtics’ master of getting to the line.

Anderson Varejao continues to lead the Cavs — he’s got six points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

First quarter, 3:27, Cavs 17-14: If the Cavs want to play an up-tempo brand of basketball, then Rajon Rondo is game. Back-to-back Cavs turnovers yield back-to-back layups in transition for Rondo, and suddenly the C’s are back in the game.

Rondo has two assists and a rebound to go with his four points. It’s a good start, albeit not quite “Game 4 against the Cavs last spring” good. Give him time.

First quarter, 5:45, Cavs 16-8: Anderson Varejao is doin’ work for the Cavaliers. He’s now got six points, five rebounds and one assist to lead the way early. That would be a good stat line at halftime, not to mention midway through the first quarter.

Varejao’s an energetic big man who makes his presence known all over the floor. The Celtics hate players like that.

First quarter, 7:30, Cavs 12-4: Uh oh. The Cavs are getting second-chance points in bunches early, including a couple of 3s from Anthony Parker and Mo Williams. They’ve now got an eight-point lead.

The C’s aren’t scrapping for loose balls, they’re not getting rebounds, and they’re not contesting shots. The Cavs, led by Anderson Varejao, are playing with energy. The C’s need to match it.

First quarter, 9:27, Celtics 4-3: The good news for the Celtics is Shaquille O’Neal’s unselfish play early, making the extra pass to create an open look under the basket for Kevin Garnett. The bad news? Foul trouble.

Paul Pierce has picked up two infractions early, and he’s none too happy. A steaming mad Celtics captain will have to take a seat early.

This is the earliest we’ve seen Marquis Daniels this season.

First quarter, 10:54, Celtics 2-0: The Celtics get on the board first. After a melee of a first minute, with turnovers on both sides, the C’s get running in transition and get Ray Allen a layup. The C’s have a 2-0 lead.

6 p.m.: Last time these two teams faced off at Quicken Loans Arena, it was a trap game for the Celtics — they had just come off an emotional win over the Miami Heat, and they lost their focus a night later in Cleveland.

This time, the shoe’s on the other foot. It’s the Cavs who might overlook the Celtics with Miami on the horizon.

Will the Cavaliers be able to block out the distraction of LeBron’s impending homecoming? If they can, they’ll give the Celtics a game. If not, look for the C’s to get revenge for last month’s loss.

3 p.m.: Good news, Celtics fans: Shaquille O’Neal didn’t miss his flight, and he’ll be on the floor Tuesday night against the Cavaliers.

Shaq explained at the Celtics’ shootaround on Tuesday morning that his missing Monday’s practice was merely a “miscommunication,” and that he’s not generally one to miss practice.

Doc Rivers is ready to move past this. He’ll be starting Shaq against his old team on Tuesday night.

8 a.m.: Glen Davis was asked Monday to describe his mindset going into Tuesday’s rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who beat the Celtics a month ago for their first loss of the season.

“We don’t speak no English,” he responded. “All we know is ‘kill.’ That’s it. There should be no more English. Kill, kill, kill. That’s our mentality.”

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?

We’ve seen before what the Celtics are capable of when they’ve got something extra to motivate them. They’ve come out with a chip on their shoulder this season against Miami, against Washington, and most recently against Toronto. And the results haven’t lied — when these C’s care, they win. The fire’s been lit for a big night Tuesday in Cleveland.

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