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Boston at Cleveland

LeBron dances his way to 29 points, Cavs crush Celtics

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CLEVELAND -- They dunked on the Boston Celtics. Then, they danced all over them.

In an unforgettable season like none they've had before, the Cleveland Cavaliers are celebrating each milestone and moment.

LeBron James made five 3-pointers and scored 29 points before swaying to the music in his seat, and the Cavaliers throttled the defending NBA champions 107-76 on Sunday to move within one win of matching the 1985-86 Celtics for the best home record in league history.

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At 39-1, the Cavs can tie Boston's hallowed mark against Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

But equaling those Celtics of Bird, McHale and Parrish won't mean anything if the Cavs, who have already clinched the Eastern Conference's No. 1 playoff seed, can't dethrone the current guys in green sometime this spring.

Flexing their defensive muscles, the Cavs led 31-9 after the first quarter, opened a 30-point lead in the second and turned a possible playoff preview into a rout. It was Cleveland's most lopsided win ever in 173 games against the Celtics.

"I looked up at the scoreboard one time and they were shooting 15 percent from the floor," James said. "That's unbelievable."

A message, LeBron?

"Haven't we sent enough messages this year?" he said. "We know we're a good team. It wasn't a message. It was just about getting better."

The Cavaliers, now the 14th team in league history to win 65 games, might have never looked this good.

They outclassed the Celtics, who were missing Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe and have nothing to play for but pride after locking up the East's No. 2 seed.

With Cleveland leading by 26 after three, James was pulled by coach Mike Brown for some of the rest he'll need before making a title run.

When the Cavs reserves pushed the lead to 30, James, Mo Williams and Delonte West boogied together during a timeout as Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up pumped through the arena. The trio wasn't shy about things as they mugged for TV cameras to the roaring crowd's delight.

At the other end of the floor, the Celtics sat stoically while watching the Cavs' clown around.

"I'm always going to remember that," Ray Allen said. "If I beat a team, as happy as I may be in victory, I'm always going to stay humble and always remember that there's another day. We play each other too much. Those are great motivational thoughts for me."

James insisted the Cavs weren't being irreverent toward the league's most storied franchise.

"We're not trying to disrespect any team or show up any team," he said. "We're all professionals. If you take it as disrespectful, then you got to do something about it."

Daniel Gibson scored 15 and Williams added 13 for Cleveland, which held the Celtics to a season-low in points on 36 percent shooting.

Paul Pierce scored 14 and Glen Davis 12 for the Celtics, who never led and weren't thrilled to rehash the game afterward.

"Does anybody have a Masters update?" coach Doc Rivers quipped. "Let's not talk about basketball."

The Cavaliers have already clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, and with a win on Monday in Indianapolis, they can lock up home court in the Finals -- if they get that far.

They might have to get past the Celtics, who beat them in a seven-game semifinal series last year, and figure to be their stiffest competition again.

On this day, though, the Cavs were untouchable.

James made three 3-pointers in the third when he and the Cavs put to rest any thoughts of a big comeback. On his last 3, James spun a few feet from Rivers and hit his long fadeaway over Boston's Tony Allen.

Home court has been vital in the budding Celtics-Cavaliers rivalry: The home team has won 15 consecutive games, including all seven in last year's playoffs.

Tempers boiled in the third quarter when Cavs forward Anderson Varejao and Allen got tangled under the basket after a free throw.

Varejao flung Boston's guard to the floor, and Allen responded with a well placed elbow into the forward's groin area. Both players jawed at each other before getting technical fouls.

"It was a dirty play," Allen said. "He locked my arm and threw me to the ground. I wasn't going to allow him to think he could do whatever he wanted. I'm always going to stand up for myself. It's one thing for a team to be beating us, but they're not going to walk all over us."

The frizzy-haired Varejao had his own take.

"You don't hit a man in his [groin]," he said. "He doesn't like Brazilians or he doesn't like my hair."

With its defense in full lock-you-down mode, Cleveland held the Celtics to 3-of-20 (15 percent) shooting in the first. Allen missed all six of his shots and Pierce was just 2-for-7, and the two buckets he made were with hands waving in his face.

James helped set the defensive tone by racing back to reject a layup by Allen, who never could have expected Cleveland's star to close on him so quickly.

Although his club was down by 22 early in the second, Rivers was convinced the Celtics could come back.

"You play together, we'll score," he shouted. "Keep playing."

Trouble was, the Cavs never stopped.

They built their lead to 49-19 with 4:23 left before halftime, before the defending champs used a 14-0 run to get within 16. James closed the half with a three-point play to make it 52-33 at the break.

Notes

  • Cavs C/F Ben Wallace bruised his left knee in the second quarter and did not return. Wallace, who recently returned from a broken right leg, will undergo an MRI on Monday.
  • Garnett, who has missed 20 of the past 24 games with a strained right knee, is scheduled to practice Monday in Philadelphia. Boston plays the 76ers on Tuesday and Rivers wants Garnett to play in a game before the playoffs.
  • The last time the Cavs held a team to nine points or fewer in a quarter was in 1999.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
 
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Did the Cavs go a little overboard with their celebration in the fourth quarter?  (Getty Images)
Did the Cavs go a little overboard with their celebration in the fourth quarter? (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Boston (60-20) 924232076
Cleveland (65-15) «31213025107
BOS:P. Pierce 14 Pts
BOS:K. Perkins 6 Reb
BOS:R. Rondo 6 Ast
CLE:L. James 29 Pts
CLE:Z. Ilgauskas 10 Reb
CLE:L. James 7 Ast
Players of the Game
ClevelandBoston

L. James

P. Pierce
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
29471423

CBSSports.com Shop

Boston
G. Davis, PF375-142-242212
P. Pierce, SG294-175-723314
R. Rondo, PG282-91-44615
R. Allen, SG262-80-03226
K. Perkins, C223-42-26038
E. House, SG252-71-22017
M. Moore, PF225-60-230510
T. Allen, SG213-41-22367
S. Marbury, PG202-91-11405
B. Walker, SG81-30-01042
G. Pruitt, PG20-00-00000
K. Garnett, PFDid Not Play
B. Scalabrine, PFDid Not Play
L. Powe, PFDid Not Play
J. Giddens, SGDid Not Play
Totals 29-8113-2228202776
 35.8%59.1% 
Cleveland
D. West, SG374-94-434313
M. Williams, PG326-100-046213
L. James, SF309-146-647129
A. Varejao, C273-60-28346
Z. Ilgauskas, C255-111-1100211
D. Gibson, PG295-62-240215
J. Smith, PF183-61-28247
D. Jackson, PF132-33-40027
W. Szczerbiak, SF90-12-20102
S. Pavlovic, SG70-12-41012
T. Kinsey, SF71-20-02112
B. Wallace, C60-00-22010
L. Wright, CDid Not Play
J. Williams, FDid Not Play
J. Hickson, PFDid Not Play
Totals 38-6921-29462423107
 55.1%72.4% 
Other Games
Dal 92 Final
NO 102
NY 105 Final
Mia 122
Phi 104 Final
Tor 111
SA 95 Final
Sac 92
Mem 75 Final
LAL 92