Cavaliers clobber Celtics 107-76
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[April 13, 2009]
After every 3-pointer, every dunk and every block, LeBron James turned and glared at Boston's bench. The message was clear: Not here.
James made five 3-pointers and scored 29 points before dancing in his seat, and the Cleveland Cavaliers throttled the NBA champions 107-76 on Sunday to move within one win of matching the 1985-86 Celtics for the best home record in league history.
At 39-1, the Cavs can tie Boston's mark against Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Equaling those Celtics of Bird, McHale and Parrish, though, won't mean anything if the Cavs can't dethrone the current guys in green sometime this spring. The Cavs led 31-9 after the first quarter, opened a 30-point lead in the second and turned a possible playoff preview into a rout.
It was Cleveland's most lopsided win ever in 173 games against the Celtics.
James didn't even have to play in the fourth quarter, getting some of the rest he'll need before the Cavs make a run at their first title. With Cleveland up by 30, James, Mo Williams and Delonte West boogied on the bench and mugged for TV cameras as the crowd roared in delight.
At the other end of the floor, the Celtics weren't enjoying themselves at all. They sat stoically waiting for the clock to expire.
Daniel Gibson scored 15 points and Williams added 13 for Cleveland, which held the Celtics to 36 percent shooting.
Paul Pierce scored 14 and Glen Davis 12 for the Celtics, who were without Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe
-- not that they might have made a difference.
The Cavaliers have already clinched home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, and with a win on Monday in Indianapolis, they can lock up home court in the finals
-- if they get that far.
They may have to get past the Celtics, who beat them in a seven-game semifinal series last year, and figure to be their stiffest competition again.
On this day, though, the Cavs were untouchable.
James made three 3-pointers in the third quarter when he and the Cavs put to rest any thoughts of a big comeback. On his last 3, James spun a few feet from Celtics coach Doc Rivers and hit his long fadeaway over Boston's Tony Allen.
Home court has been vital in the budding Celtics-Cavaliers rivalry: The home team has won 15 consecutive games, including all seven in last year's playoffs.
Tempers boiled in the third quarter when Cavs forward Anderson Varejao and Ray Allen got tangled under the basket after a free throw.
Varejao flung Boston's guard to the floor, and Allen responded with a well placed elbow into the forward's groin area. Both were given technical fouls and players on both teams exchanged stares and trash talk that may continue in a month or so.
If the Cavs were sending a message, they delivered it quickly.
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With its defense in full lock-you-down mode, Cleveland held the Celtics to 3-of-20 (15 percent) shooting in the first quarter. Allen missed all six of his shots and Pierce was just 2-for-7, and the two buckets he made were with hands waving in his face.
James helped set the defensive tone by racing back to reject a layup by Allen, who never could have expected Cleveland's star to close on him so quickly.
Although his club was down by 22 early in the second, Rivers was convinced the Celtics could come back.
"You play together, we'll score," he shouted. "Keep playing."
Trouble was, the Cavs never stopped.
They built their lead to 49-19 with 4:23 left before halftime, before the defending champs used a 14-0 run to get within 16. James closed the half with a three-point play to make it 52-33 at the break.
Notes: Garnett, who has missed 20 of the last 24 games with a strained right knee, is scheduled to practice Monday in Philadelphia. "It might change," Rivers said. "We'll see what we're going to do." Boston plays the 76ers on Tuesday and Rivers wants Garnett to play in a game before the playoffs. ... With MVP ballots due Thursday, Brown was asked about his criteria for the award and his choice. "I don't think about it," he said. "It should be LeBron." ... Official Bill Kennedy, who ejected Rivers during a game Feb. 17 against Chicago and was fined by the league for mishandling the situation, worked his first Celtics game since the incident. Rivers was also fined $25,000 for his part. "It was an emotional combustion by two guys," Rivers said. "Both got spanked for it. I think it's water under the bridge."
[Associated Press; By TOM WITHERS]
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