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James had the next four points to make it a 14-point game in another big night against the NBA's most storied franchise. He came in averaging 30.2 points against Boston, just shy of Michael Jordan's 30.7 mark for best in NBA history.
He had to do a little extra after O'Neal appeared to be hurt when Celtics forward Glen Davis whacked his hand while trying to block a shot with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter. O'Neal left for good about 30 seconds later, and the report said he had a "significant" right thumb sprain.
And they are without a backup center for now after trading Zydrunas Ilgauskas to Washington before the trade deadline. The Wizards waived Ilgauskas on Thursday after reaching agreement on a buyout, and he could decide to rejoin his former teammates after waiting the mandatory 30 days.
Cleveland had struggled defensively since the trade, a pattern that continued Thursday. The Celtics made 10 of their first 13 shots, with Rondo making five of the baskets and assisting on the other five. His layup with 33 seconds left gave Boston a 31-21 lead after one quarter.
Newcomer Nate Robinson's 3-pointer extended the lead to 40-27 with 9:46 remaining in the half. The lead was still double digits after Allen nailed two 3s late in the half, and Boston carried a 56-48 lead into the break.
The Cavaliers limited the Celtics to 6-of-20 shooting in the third quarter, trimming the lead to 74-73 after James made a free throw with 0.4 seconds left.
NOTES: Former Celtics forward Leon Powe made his season debut to a nice ovation in the final minute of the first half. He was a key reserve on the Celtics' championship team, but tore the ACL in his left knee during last season's playoffs and wasn't re-signed. ... O'Neal and Davis, former LSU players, chatted before the game in the Cleveland locker room. Davis informed O'Neal that the Tigers were no longer winless in the SEC, having beaten Arkansas on Wednesday.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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