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Wrap-Up – The Cavaliers don’t want to win ‘em all like this, but it’s nice to know that they can. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.
The Wine and Gold spotted Boston 17 points heading into the fourth quarter, but Kyrie Irving got hot, the defense clicked and the Cavaliers rallied for their third straight win, topping the Celtics in a 122-121 thriller in Beantown.
”Mr. Fourth Quarter” earned his nickname on Friday night, netting 15 of his 27 points (and all three of his three three-pointers) in the final quarter – going 8-for-16 from the floor, adding five assists, four boards and three steals.
LeBron James did his thing in all four quarters, and he led everyone with 41 points – his fifth career 40-plus point game in Boston – adding four boards and a team-high seven assists. But like Irving, the four-time MVP saved his best for last, going 4-of-5 from the floor while combining with rookie Joe Harris and Shawn Marion in locking up Rajon Rondo down the stretch.
The Cavaliers – averaging nearly 117 points per contest during their three-game win streak – featured five players in double figures, including James, Irving and Kevin Love, who doubled-up for the fourth time this year with 12 points and a game-high 15 boards.
Anderson Varejao finished with 16 points on an efficient 7-for-10 shooting and Dion Waiters pitched in with 10 points one week after injuring his back in a nasty mid-air collision against Denver. Rookie Joe Harris added six points – three of which came on a big fourth-quarter trey to get the Cavaliers within one possession.
Both teams shot the ball well on the night – Boston at 55 percent, the Cavs at 51 percent. The Celtics took 23 free throws on the night – or seven less than James, Irving and Love combined.
Turning Point – The Celtics shot a blistering 73 percent from the floor in the third quarter and opened their lead to 19 points early in the fourth. But Kyrie absolutely caught fire to start the period – drilling three bombs in just under two minutes of play and capping his personal rally with three free throw makes after being fouled by Avery Bradley.
Two possessions later, Joe Harris replicated the feat, drilling three straight free throws to cap an 18-6 run that got the Cavaliers within striking distance down the stretch.
By the Numbers – 6:25/1 … Kyrie Irving’s assist-to-turnover ratio over the past five games. He’s committed just one turnover per game in the first four games of that span and didn’t commit a single miscue in 40 minutes of play on Friday night.
Quotable – Coach David Blatt, on the fourth-quarter performances of LeBron James and Kyrie Irivng …
”Those are two players of the highest order and the highest level and it’s banal to say that’s what they’re supposed to do, but that’s what they’re supposed to do and that’s what they do.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers settle in for some home cooking for almost the entire remainder of the month – playing just a single road game (next Friday in Washington) away from the cozy confines of The Q. On Saturday night, they welcome the red-hot Hawks to Cleveland, fresh off a Friday night win over Miami. On Monday night, it’s a rematch with the Nuggets at The Q, followed by a big Wednesday night meeting against Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the World Champion Spurs.