James’ Triple-Double Upstages Pierce’s 50
Cleveland 113, Boston 109 (2OT)
BOSTON, Feb. 15 (Ticker) -- With All-Star Weekend just days away, LeBron James and Paul Pierce showcased their own brilliance.
James had 43 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his fourth triple-double of the season as the Cleveland Cavaliers posted a 113-109 double-overtime victory over the Boston Celtics, who received a career-high 50 points from Pierce.
"Whenever you get two All-Stars on the court at the same time, you've always got that sense of pride," said Pierce, who grabbed seven rebounds and handed out eight assists. "We both have the upmost respect for one another and I think our competitive juices come out. It was a great night for both of us."
Pierce became the first Celtic to score 50 points since Hall of Famer Larry Bird on Nov. 10, 1989.
"The two shootouts I've been in I'm 0-for-2," Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked. "Larry and Dominique Wilkins and this one."
Pierce's night was cut short when he fouled out with 60 seconds left in the second extra session.
"I really got into a groove in the second half," Pierce said. "The guys were getting the ball to me. I felt good tonight. It was just a great game to be a part of."
Prior to fouling out, Pierce spilt a pair of free throws at the 1:14 mark to bring the Celtics within 108-107. On the ensuing possession, Pierce fouled out while guarding James, who split of free throws.
"I feel like when you've got two All-Stars playing together and guarding each other you've got to let some things go," Pierce said. "I didn't feel like my aggressiveness on defense really warranted a foul."
After Delonte West threw up an air ball, James scored on a driving layup for a 111-107 lead with 30 seconds to go.
Wally Szczerbiak converted two free throws 11 seconds later but James and Damon Jones sealed the victory by knocking down key foul shots.
"I had to take the challenge," said James, who guarded Pierce most of the game. "He was doing anything that he wanted. Every time he went to take a shot, even if he made it, I was making sure that I had a hand in his face. I just tried to do as much as I could to get him tired towards the end."
James and Jones scored on back-to-back possessions for a 97-93 edge with 3:27 remaining in the first overtime. But Szczerbiak hit a deep jumper with just over two minutes left.
Drew Gooden had a chance to gave the Cavaliers a four-point advantage but made just 1-of-2 free throws with 40 seconds to go.
Pierce converted a three-point play 16 seconds later tying the game at 102-102. James had a chance to win but missed a layup in the final seconds.
The Celtics held a 90-88 edge with just under two minutes remaining in regulation before James scored five straight points, including a one-handed dunk over West that brought the crowd to its feet.
Pierce tied the game at 93-93 with a pair of free throws with two-tenths of a second remaining after he was fouled on a jumper by James.
"It was a tough call," James said. "I thought I was in the right position. I thought I made a good play at the ball, stripped the ball away from him."
"I didn't really think about it," Pierce said. "I've blown some free throws early in the year with seconds to go. I just didn't think about it."
Michael Olowokandi knocked away the ball on the Cavs' final possession, sending the game to overtime.
Gooden scored 19 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 14 for the Cavs, who shot 44 percent (41-of-92) overall.
Szczerbiak scored 17 points and West contributed 15 for Boston, which also shot 44 percent (40-of-89).