The Boston Celtics trailed by 18 points heading into the fourth quarter, but they put together quite the fourth-quarter comeback attempt against the defending NBA champions.
It wasn’t enough, though, as the Cleveland Cavaliers downed the C’s 124-118 at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday night.
Kyrie Irving (32 points, 12 assists), Kevin Love (30 points, 14 rebounds) and LeBron James (23 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds) all led the way for Cleveland with double-doubles. Isaiah Thomas was the Celtics’ leading scorer with 31 points.
With the win, the Cavs improved to 24-7, while the C’s fell to 19-14.
Here’s how it all went down.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Al Horford
EARLY LOVE SHOW
The first quarter belonged to Love. The Cavaliers power forward scored 15 points and had four rebounds in 11 minutes, and made 6 of 11 shots, three of which were 3-pointers. Bradley also had a nice quarter with 11 points, but the Celtics only shot 37.5 percent from the field and were even worse from 3-point range (21.4 percent). That allowed Cleveland to take a 32-25 lead into the second quarter.
The Celtics kept things close at times during the second frame, and they trailed the Cavs 66-59 at halftime. Boston’s shooting improved in the second, and Thomas was a big reason why with 17 points in the frame. Love cooled off a bit, but both Irving and James reached double figures before the break.
Boston’s deficit ballooned to 101-83 by the end of the third, as the Cavs seemingly put the game out of reach before the start of the final quarter.
The Cavs scored the first 10 points of the third frame thanks to three Love 3-pointers and a James free throw. Love had 28 points and 13 rebounds through the first three frames.
Oh, and there’s this:
It would have been easy to call it a night and get ready for Friday’s game after falling behind by 18 points heading into the fourth quarter, but the C’s didn’t take the easy way out. Instead, they went on a 19-7 run before the Cavs called a timeout with 5:47 remaining. They cut it to three points with a Crowder 3-pointer and a Bradley layup after he stole the ensuing inbounds pass with 3:17 left, and they inched to within one point multiple times in the closing minutes.
But it was too much Irving in the end, as he made back-to-back driving layups to help the Cavs hold on late.
PLAY OF THE GAME
You don’t have to be a Cavs fan to admire this play by Irving.
After six straight games against potential playoff teams, the Celtics will host the likely lottery-bound Miami Heat on Friday night. Tip-off is schedule for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images
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