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Kyrie Irving scored 23 points and hit the game-winner as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Celtics in Boston Sunday evening, 88-87. Ray Allen had 22 points for the Celtics in his first game back since missing 4 games with an ankle sprain. Paul Pierce added 18 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists as the Celtics couldn’t extend their win streak to 5 games.
The Celtics led Cleveland 87-76 with 4:24 to go in the game but couldn’t muster another point the rest of the game. Rookie Kyrie Irving sparked a 12-to-0 Cleveland run to end the game.
Irving scored 6 points in the game’s final 4 minutes and assisted on two other baskets. With 2 seconds left on the clock Irving drove around E’Twaun Moore and Brandon Bass to score the go-ahead bucket. Pierce was unable to get a shot off a possession later as time expired.
Irving was the headliner for the Cavs, but Anderson Varejao was a key part of Sunday’s narrative. The veteran forward had 18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and several key hustle plays during the Cavaliers late-game rally. Varejo stole a rebound from Bass with 23 seconds left on the game clock. That rebound gave the Cavaliers the extra possession that became Irving’s game winning layup.
Varejao and the Cavs pounded the Celtics interior which was without Jermaine O’Neal for the third straight game. The Celtics gave up a season-high 54 points in the paint to Cleveland. Kevin Garnett had 14 points and 7 rebounds, Brandon Bass had 13 and 5 but both struggled on defense Sunday.
The Cavaliers bench outscored the Celtics bench 30-14. Forward Alonzo Gee led the Cavs bench with 14 points and 4 steals. The Cavs recorded 11 steals and the Celtics coughed the ball up 16 times.
The Celtics and Cavaliers will face off again Tuesday night in Cleveland. Before Sunday’s game Celtics’ coach Doc Rivers said he hopes Rajon Rondo will be a go for Tuesday’s game. If Rondo can play, it will be his job to try and slow down Irving in the rematch.