THE FACTS: Point guard Kyrie Irving scored 11 of his game-high 40 points in the final 2 1/2 minutes, rallying the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 95-90 victory over the Boston Celtics. Power forward Tristan Thompson added a season-high 21 points and nine rebounds for Cleveland, which won back-to-back home games for the first time since Feb. 19-21, 2012. Point guard Rajon Rondo led Boston across the board with 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, while center Kevin Garnett had 16 points and five blocked shots. The Celtics suffered their season-worst fourth loss in a row.
QUOTABLE: "It's no secret who they're going to when the game gets tight -- it's Kyrie (Irving). There are a lot of great guards, but he's probably the best scoring point guard in the league. There is really no scorer like him at that position."
-- Celtics small forward Paul Pierce
THE STAT: Irving became the first Cavaliers player to score 40 points at Quicken Loans Arena since LeBron James on March 5, 2010 against Detroit. The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year had 19 points in the first quarter, four in the second, two in the third, and 15 in the fourth. "If you look at the point guards in the Eastern Conference, name one that's having a better season," Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. "I'll wait." Irving was 16-for-24 from the field, 1-for-3 on 3-pointers, and 7-for-7 at the foul line. His 16 field goals made were a career high.
TURNING POINT: The Celtics held an 83-82 advantage with 2:37 left in the fourth, but Irving stole the ball from Rondo on back-to-back possessions and put Cleveland ahead for good with two layups. Irving wound up scoring 11 of the Cavaliers' final 13 points as they built the largest lead of the game at 95-87 with 19 seconds left. "I was just trying to get a win because we desperately needed it," said Irving, who hopes to be named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team when it is announced Thursday. "It was more of a statement game for the Cavaliers than for me."
QUOTABLE II: "Absolutely, Kyrie (Irving) is an All-Star. It was hard for me to vote for a guy on a team with 11 wins, but he's just playing so well. He's got unbelievable handles and he's a tough kid, which I don't think people give him enough credit for."
-- Celtics coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers
HOT: Cavaliers power forward Luke Walton had seven points, three rebounds, and a season-high tying seven assists in 18 strong minutes off the bench. ... Thompson is averaging 14.1 points and 11.9 rebounds over his last 17 games. ... Irving's 19 first-quarter points were the most by a Cleveland player in one period this season. ... Irving, Thompson and Walton combined to shoot 19-for-27 from the field in the first half, scoring 46 of the Cavaliers' 54 points. ... Celtics power forward Jared Sullinger notched his fourth double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The former Ohio State standout was the 21st overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
NOT: Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller was 2-for-10 from the field with six points and six fouls. The rookie from North Carolina owns a team-high four disqualifications. ... Cleveland backup guards Daniel "Boobie" Gibson and Shaun Livingston missed all five of their shots in 33 combined minutes. ... Cavaliers shooting guard C.J. Miles was a late scratch because of the flu. His replacement in the starting lineup, Dion Waiters, bricked nine of his 12 field goal attempts. ... Celtics shooting guard Avery Bradley had no points and three fouls in 12 first-half minutes. ... Boston committed 18 turnovers, which Cleveland turned into 20 points.
QUOTABLE III: "We've just got to be better, period. We've got to try to figure this thing out because it's not going to change itself. I want it so bad, but I've got to find a balance. I've got to do better for 48 minutes, man."
-- Celtics power forward Garnett
GOOD MOVE: Earlier in the day, the Cavaliers acquired power forward Marreese Speights, shooting guard Wayne Ellington, point guard Josh Selby, and a future first-round pick from Memphis in exchange for seldom-used power forward Jon Leuer. "It was a good day for us," Scott said. "We got some very valuable assets." Cleveland general manager Chris Grant indicated that Speights is likely to play major minutes backing up Zeller and Thompson.
BAD MOVE: The Cavaliers released point guard Jeremy Pargo as part of their pregame roster shuffle, then chose to scrap approximately 10,000 game programs because he was on the cover. Instead of receiving the free, pamphlet-sized magazines when they entered the arena, fans received a photocopy of the front page of Cleveland's media notes. ... Rivers started and played Bradley 26 minutes despite his obvious pain from bruised ribs.
NOTABLE: Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (right knee surgery, blood clots in lungs) was declared out for the season Monday. The mop-topped Brazilian was leading the NBA in rebounding when he suffered a split muscle near his right knee on Dec. 18 against Toronto. ... Rivers named his son, current New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Austin Rivers, after longtime Cleveland small forward Austin Carr. He became close to Carr when he attended his basketball camps as a youth. "I spent a lot of time around the Cavs when I was young because my uncle, (power forward) Jim Brewer, played here," Rivers said. "I loved Jim and I still do, but Austin was my favorite player and the guy I tried to be like on the court."
UP NEXT: For the Celtics, Thursday vs. New York, Friday @ Atlanta, Sunday vs. Miami. For the Cavaliers, Friday vs. Milwaukee, Saturday @ Toronto, Jan. 29 vs. Golden State.