Cavs Notes

Celtics get well at Cavaliers' expense: Snap four-game losing streak, improve to 11-2 without Kyrie Irving

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    The Cavaliers' Larry Nance Jr. tries to keep the ball away from the Celtics' Daniel Theis in the first half Tuesday at The Q.



CLEVELAND — Once again, Kyrie Irving didn’t play in Cleveland, this time due to what his new employer called “load management.” So, of course, the Boston Celtics won.

Coming in on a four-game losing streak, the Celtics improved to 11-2 in games without Irving this season by downing the Cavaliers 116-106 Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

“Anytime you’re missing your lead dog, everybody else has to pull more weight,” Cavs big man Larry Nance Jr. said. “That’s a team that’s dangerous when that happens.”

That Irving hasn’t played at The Q since the 2017-18 season opener, which came after the Cavs granted his summer request to be traded, was called “odd” by former Cleveland teammate Kevin Love.

“This is a great city,” Love said. “When he does come back, the fans are going to embrace him and support him.”

Down 12 on several occasions over the first three quarters, the Cavs (19-56) tied the game at 92 on a 3-pointer by Marquese Chriss with 9:09 left in the fourth, but managed just four points while being outscored by 10 over the next 5:51.

“Their physicality wore us down,” Cleveland coach Larry Drew said.

“We had some rough stretches, but it didn’t really get away from us until the end.

“Against a good team, you have to take care of the basketball,” he added. “Your shot selection has to be shots that you want. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”

Small forward Jayson Tatum led Boston (44-31) with 21 points, all in the first half, while center Al Horford had 19 points to top 11,000 for his career, eight rebounds and five assists. Shooting guard Marcus Smart added 21 points, six boards and three assists and Gordon Hayward had 15, five and four off the bench.

Equally important, Boston held Cleveland to 14 points over the final 9:09.

“We had some quick shots,” Nance said. “We were fumbling the ball a little bit. Against a team like that, they can really compound that.”

Collin Sexton led the Cavs with 24 points and Jordan Clarkson had 18 and five assists, but the Cleveland guards probably gave up that many points defensively. Nance had 13 points, four rebounds and seven assists off the bench and Love had 10 points and 11 boards while shooting a miserable 3-for-13 from the field, including 0-for-5 on 3-pointers.

“That’s on me,” Love said. “Outside of myself, a lot of guys stepped up and played hard.”

The Celtics, who didn’t trail over the final 42:08, led by 12 points on several occasions in the third quarter but couldn’t sustain, allowing the Cavs to make it 88-81 when Sexton drove for a dunk in the closing seconds.

Love finally got on the board with a pair of free throws 24 seconds into the period, then made his first field goal after a 0-for-8 start at the 6:33 mark.

“Kevin just didn’t have it tonight,” Drew said. “We tried to get him going with a few things, but he just couldn’t get a rhythm going.”

Despite Love’s first-half struggles, Cleveland clawed its way back from a nine-point deficit to take a 51-50 lead with 1:57 to go in the second period, only to have the Celtics close on a 7-0 run to go up 57-51 at intermission.

Tatum killed the Cavs with 14 points in the first quarter and seven more in the second.

“In the first half, I didn’t give the guys what I should have,” Love said. “I came in (to the locker room at halftime) and apologized to the guys for it.”

Despite not leading for the final 3 1/2 quarters, the Cavs never trailed by more than 12, though there were several occasions when they seemed to be on the verge of getting blown out.

“That’s growth,” Nance said. “Earlier in the year, that could have snowballed and gotten to a 20- or 30-point game on our home court.”

Contact Rick Noland at and follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.

Celtics 116, Cavs 106

BOSTON (116): Tatum 9-17 0-0 21, Horford 7-10 5-6 19, Baynes 2-2 0-0 4, Rozier 5-13 0-0 11, Smart 8-14 3-3 21, Brown 3-7 1-3 9, Hayward 7-12 1-2 15, Yabusele 1-1 0-0 2, Theis 0-0 0-0 0, Morris 4-15 4-5 14. Totals 46-91 14-19 116.

CLEVELAND (106): Osman 6-9 0-1 15, Love 3-13 4-4 10, Thompson 2-4 3-4 7, Sexton 9-19 3-3 24, Knight 2-6 0-0 5, Chriss 3-5 0-2 7, Nance Jr. 4-9 5-5 13, Nwaba 1-2 0-0 2, Clarkson 7-11 4-6 18, Stauskas 2-2 0-0 5. Totals 39-80 19-25 106.

Boston      32 25 31 28 — 116
Cleveland 27 24 30 25 — 106

3-Point Goals—Boston 10-25 (Tatum 3-5, Brown 2-3, Smart 2-5, Morris 2-7, Rozier 1-3, Horford 0-1, Hayward 0-1), Cleveland 9-29 (Osman 3-7, Sexton 3-7, Chriss 1-1, Stauskas 1-1, Knight 1-3, Nwaba 0-1, Clarkson 0-1, Nance Jr. 0-3, Love 0-5). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Boston 46 (Horford 8), Cleveland 36 (Love 11). Assists—Boston 23 (Horford 5), Cleveland 24 (Nance Jr. 7). Total Fouls—Boston 21, Cleveland 21. A—19,432 (20,562).


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