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All tied up: LeBron's 44 helps Cavs even series with Celtics

CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James knows the path to the NBA Finals better than anyone in today's game.

And unless the Boston Celtics do something soon, he'll get there again.

James bullied his way to 44 points, surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar atop a postseason list and helped the Cleveland Cavaliers even the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2 on Monday night with a 111-102 victory over the Celtics, who are looking forward to getting home before their adoring fans.

Pushed by a raucous crowd that wasn't so confident a few days ago, the Cavs held off Boston's comeback in the fourth quarter and squared a tight series that is now a best-of-three.

Cleveland is trying to become the 20th team - out of 300 - to overcome a 2-0 deficit and James, who has already orchestrated two such rallies and is seeking his eighth straight finals, is a step closer to a third.

To do it again the Cavs will have to win in Boston, where the Celtics are 9-0 this postseason.

''We know it's going to be a hostile environment,'' James said. ''We know their fans are going to be very energetic. But we have to just have our same mindset we had when we came home for these two games. If our minds are there, we put ourselves in a position to be victorious.''

Game 5 is Wednesday night at TD Garden, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens is trying to stay positive with a team that has given up a 2-0 lead and fell to 1-6 on the road in these playoffs.

''It's the best two out of three to go to the NBA Finals. Doesn't get better than that,'' he said. ''Ultimately, anybody that didn't think this was going to be tough, I mean, everything is tough. In this deal, it's a blast to have to grit your teeth, get up off the mat and go after it again.''

Kyle Korver added 14 points and Cleveland's sharp-shooting 37-year-old added three block and several hustle plays, outrunning three Celtics in one sequence and diving for a loose ball.

"I've loved Kyle ever since we made the trade to get him here'' James said. ''I don't remember Kyle falling too much like that. I've got to keep his body as fresh as possible. But listen, he's doing whatever it takes to try to help us win, with the blocks, with the strips. Obviously his shot making is very key for our team as well, but it's just the intangibles he's doing for us defensively.''

Tristan Thompson had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who won despite 19 turnovers and two assists in the second half. Kevin Love had just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting and was in foul trouble, but he made a big 3-pointer and follow shot in the fourth quarter.

Jaylen Brown scored 25 and Boston had all five scorers in double figures, but the Celtics fell behind by 19 in the first half and didn't have enough to catch Cleveland.

And, of course, they didn't have James, who moved past Abdul-Jabbar (2,356) for the most field goals in playoff history. James also recorded his 25th career postseason game with at least 40 points - his sixth in this postseason.

The Celtics hung around in the second half and pulled within 100-93 on Marcus Smart's basket with 4:29 left. But Thompson got free for a dunk, and after a miss by Boston, James recovered after making his seventh turnover by making a steal and layup.

Moments later, James drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing to finally put away the young Celtics, who will now feel the immense pressure of trying to hold off the three-time champion.

''He's the best in the game at evaluating the court and figuring out what he wants and where he wants it,'' Stevens said. ''The thing about it is that you just have to battle. You just have to make it as hard as possible, because he's going to find a matchup that he ultimately wants.''

Stevens considered changing his starting lineup, but decided to stick with the same first five - Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Al Horford, and Terry Rozier - as the first three games.

Boston's starters held their own, but none of them was able to match James when it mattered most.

''You hope he misses, that's about it,'' Rozier said. ''He's a big body and you've just got to keep him in front, and hope he misses.''

TIP-INS

Celtics: Stevens was evasive about his starting lineup during his pregame news conference, not wanting to give the Cavs any advance notice. ''We will start five people. I promise,'' he said, drawing laughs from media members. ... Injured stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving are not traveling with the team so they can continue their respective rehabs. Both have been sitting on the bench with their teammates in Boston.

Cavaliers: Won their seventh straight playoff game at home. ... Love threw one of his patented ''touchdown'' passes in the first quarter to James, who outmaneuvered Smart and Brown like a wide receiver to make the catch and score. ... Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 pick in last month's NFL draft, attended the game. ... Improved to 9-3 vs. Boston in the playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena.

AMONGST GIANTS

James seems to reach a milestone every game and he was honored to pass Abdul-Jabbar's mark.

''To know where I come from, small city 35 miles south of here, and to hear I'm in the same category or talked about and jumping these greats in the playoffs - it's pretty cool,'' he said. ''You hear the scoring, the field goals made, and for a kid that really doesn't care much about scoring.''

OLD MAN KORVER

Frozen water was Korver's postgame beverage.

''I'm going to be hurting tomorrow,'' he said. ''My back's a little sore, my elbow is a little sore, but this is fun basketball. It's the playoffs. We're at home. The crowd was rocking tonight. And it just kind of takes over you sometimes. So, yeah, whatever it takes.''

SLOW START

For the second game in a row, the Celtics struggled in the first quarter.

Boston got some open looks, but shot just 27 percent (7 of 26) in the first 12 minutes with both Tatum and Brown missing dunks. Also, Morris picked up three quick fouls.

UP NEXT

Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

1st Quarter

Time Team Play Score
12:00   Jumpball  
11:40   Al Horford missed layup  
11:40   Team rebound  
11:23   Kevin Love missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:18   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
11:13   Terry Rozier missed floating jump shot  
11:10   Defensive rebound by George Hill  
11:05   Tristan Thompson missed layup, blocked by Al Horford  
11:00   Offensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
10:59   Tristan Thompson missed layup  
10:59   Offensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
10:50 +2 Tristan Thompson made dunk 0-2
10:47 +2 Marcus Morris made driving dunk, assist by Terry Rozier 2-2
10:27   Shooting foul on Marcus Morris  
10:27 +1 Kevin Love made 1st of 2 free throws 2-3
10:27 +1 Kevin Love made 2nd of 2 free throws 2-4
10:11   Personal foul on Kevin Love  
10:11 +1 Al Horford made 1st of 2 free throws 3-4
10:11 +1 Al Horford made 2nd of 2 free throws 4-4
9:58   J.R. Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:56   Defensive rebound by Marcus Morris  
9:47 +2 Marcus Morris made jump shot 6-4
9:28   Kevin Love missed jump shot  
9:26   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
9:21   Jaylen Brown missed driving layup  
9:18   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
9:12 +2 LeBron James made fade-away jump shot 6-6
8:54   Marcus Morris missed jump shot  
8:52   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
8:38   3-second violation turnover on Kevin Love  
8:22 +2 Jaylen Brown made driving layup, assist by Terry Rozier 8-6
8:07 +3 J.R. Smith made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by George Hill 8-9
7:54 +2 Terry Rozier made jump shot, assist by Al Horford 10-9
7:31 +2 Tristan Thompson made layup 10-11
7:20   Terry Rozier missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:18   Defensive rebound by J.R. Smith  
7:18   Personal foul on Jaylen Brown  
7:11   Personal foul on Terry Rozier  
7:03   J.R. Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:03   Team rebound  
6:40   Marcus Morris missed jump shot  
6:38   Defensive rebound by J.R. Smith  
6:29 +3 J.R. Smith made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by LeBron James 10-14
6:10   Jaylen Brown missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:08   Offensive rebound by Marcus Morris  
6:04   Al Horford missed jump shot  
6:02   Defensive rebound by Kevin Love  
5:48   Lost ball turnover on Kevin Love, stolen by Al Horford  
5:45   Jayson Tatum missed dunk  
5:42   Defensive rebound by Kevin Love  
5:38 +2 LeBron James made finger-roll layup 10-16
5:38   Shooting foul on Marcus Morris  
5:38 +1 LeBron James made free throw 10-17
5:27   Personal foul on George Hill  
5:15   Marcus Smart missed jump shot, blocked by Tristan Thompson  
5:10   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
4:53 +2 LeBron James made jump shot 10-19
4:38 +3 Semi Ojeleye made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Terry Rozier 13-19
4:18 +2 Kevin Love made jump shot, assist by George Hill 13-21
4:05 +2 Terry Rozier made jump shot 15-21
3:52   Offensive foul on Tristan Thompson  
3:52   Offensive foul on Tristan Thompson  
3:33   Marcus Smart missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:31   Defensive rebound by Kevin Love  
3:27 +2 LeBron James made layup, assist by Kevin Love 15-23
3:20   Marcus Smart missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:18   Defensive rebound by Kevin Love  
3:08   J.R. Smith missed jump shot  
3:06   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
2:47   Jayson Tatum missed finger-roll layup  
2:45   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
2:45   Personal foul on Semi Ojeleye  
2:45 +1 LeBron James made 1st of 2 free throws 15-24
2:45 +1 LeBron James made 2nd of 2 free throws 15-25
2:35   Jaylen Brown missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:28   Offensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
2:28 +2 Aron Baynes made dunk 17-25
2:23   Personal foul on Marcus Morris  
2:23 +1 Larry Nance Jr. made 1st of 2 free throws 17-26
2:23   Larry Nance Jr. missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
2:21   Defensive rebound by Jaylen Brown  
2:11   Lost ball turnover on Marcus Smart, stolen by Larry Nance Jr.  
2:11   Personal foul on Marcus Smart  
2:11 +1 Larry Nance Jr. made 1st of 2 free throws 17-27
2:11   Larry Nance Jr. missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
2:08   Defensive rebound by Marcus Smart  
1:53   Jaylen Brown missed floating jump shot, blocked by Kyle Korver  
1:49   Defensive rebound by Kyle Korver  
1:45 +3 George Hill made 3-pt. jump shot 17-30
1:33   Personal foul on Jeff Green  
1:16   Marcus Smart missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:14   Defensive rebound by Larry Nance Jr.  
1:04   Lost ball turnover on Kevin Love, stolen by Jaylen Brown  
1:04   Personal foul on Kevin Love  
1:04   Marcus Smart missed 1st of 2 free throws  
1:04   Team rebound  
1:04 +1 Marcus Smart made 2nd of 2 free throws 18-30
0:52 +2 Kyle Korver made jump shot, assist by Larry Nance Jr. 18-32
0:36   Jayson Tatum missed floating jump shot  
0:33   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
0:30 +2 Jeff Green made floating jump shot, assist by Tristan Thompson 18-34
0:23   Jaylen Brown missed floating jump shot, blocked by Larry Nance Jr.  
0:23   Team rebound  
0:13   Jaylen Brown missed driving dunk  
0:11   Defensive rebound by Jeff Green  
0:00   Jeff Green missed floating jump shot  
0:00   Team rebound  
0:00   End of period  

2nd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:44   Offensive foul on LeBron James  
11:44   Offensive foul on LeBron James  
11:23   Jaylen Brown missed floating jump shot  
11:21   Offensive rebound by Jaylen Brown  
11:20   Jaylen Brown missed layup, blocked by Kyle Korver  
11:19   Team rebound  
11:15   Shooting foul on Marcus Smart  
11:15 +1 Kyle Korver made 1st of 3 free throws 18-35
11:15 +1 Kyle Korver made 2nd of 3 free throws 18-36
11:15 +1 Kyle Korver made 3rd of 3 free throws 18-37
11:08   Personal foul on Jeff Green  
11:02   Shooting foul on LeBron James  
11:02 +1 Jayson Tatum made 1st of 2 free throws 19-37
11:02 +1 Jayson Tatum made 2nd of 2 free throws 20-37
10:58   Bad pass turnover on LeBron James, stolen by Marcus Smart  
10:51 +2 Aron Baynes made dunk, assist by Marcus Smart 22-37
10:38   Jeff Green missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:35   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
10:23   Al Horford missed jump shot  
10:20   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
10:10   LeBron James missed jump shot  
10:02   Offensive rebound by LeBron James  
10:01 +2 LeBron James made jump shot 22-39
9:53 +2 Al Horford made alley-oop shot, assist by Marcus Smart 24-39
9:32   Shooting foul on Terry Rozier  
9:32 +1 LeBron James made 1st of 2 free throws 24-40
9:32   LeBron James missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
9:30   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
9:19 +2 Jayson Tatum made jump shot, assist by Terry Rozier 26-40
8:46   LeBron James missed jump shot  
8:44   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
8:38   Shooting foul on Kyle Korver  
8:38 +1 Aron Baynes made 1st of 2 free throws 27-40
8:38   Aron Baynes missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
8:36   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
8:24   Out of bounds turnover on Jordan Clarkson  
8:05   Marcus Smart missed floating jump shot  
8:05   Offensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
8:05   Shooting foul on Kyle Korver  
8:05 +1 Aron Baynes made 1st of 2 free throws 28-40
8:05 +1 Aron Baynes made 2nd of 2 free throws 29-40
7:51 +3 Kyle Korver made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by LeBron James 29-43
7:39   Al Horford missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:35   Defensive rebound by Kevin Love  
7:17 +3 Kyle Korver made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Kevin Love 29-46
7:09 +3 Terry Rozier made 3-pt. jump shot 32-46
6:53 +2 Tristan Thompson made alley-oop shot, assist by J.R. Smith 32-48
6:40 +3 Terry Rozier made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Marcus Smart 35-48
6:17   Shooting foul on Jayson Tatum  
6:17 +1 LeBron James made 1st of 2 free throws 35-49
6:17 +1 LeBron James made 2nd of 2 free throws 35-50
6:03   Terry Rozier missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:00   Defensive rebound by Kyle Korver  
5:46   Offensive foul on Kevin Love  
5:46   Offensive foul on Kevin Love  
5:35 +3 Jaylen Brown made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Terry Rozier 38-50
5:18   Unsportsmanlike technical foul  
5:18 +1 Kyle Korver made free throw 38-51
5:10 +2 Kyle Korver made fade-away jump shot 38-53
4:54   Jaylen Brown missed driving layup, blocked by Kyle Korver  
4:54   Team rebound  
4:46 +2 Marcus Morris made dunk, assist by Terry Rozier 40-53
4:28   Tristan Thompson missed floating jump shot  
4:26   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
4:19 +3 Marcus Morris made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jaylen Brown 43-53
3:57 +2 Tristan Thompson made layup, assist by J.R. Smith 43-55
3:37 +3 Jaylen Brown made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Terry Rozier 46-55
3:05 +2 LeBron James made jump shot, assist by J.R. Smith 46-57
2:54   Terry Rozier missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:52   Defensive rebound by LeBron James  
2:34 +2 LeBron James made jump shot 46-59
2:26   Personal foul on George Hill  
2:26 +1 Marcus Smart made 1st of 2 free throws 47-59
2:26 +1 Marcus Smart made 2nd of 2 free throws 48-59
2:09 +3 J.R. Smith made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Tristan Thompson 48-62
1:55   Jayson Tatum missed driving layup  
1:52   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
1:47   George Hill missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:43   Defensive rebound by Marcus Smart  
1:42   Bad pass turnover on Marcus Smart, stolen by George Hill  
1:37 +2 George Hill made finger-roll layup 48-64
1:25   Semi Ojeleye missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:22   Defensive rebound by J.R. Smith  
1:00 +2 LeBron James made fade-away jump shot 48-66
0:48 +3 Al Horford made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Marcus Smart 51-66
0:37   LeBron James missed jump shot  
0:35   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
0:28   Bad pass turnover on Marcus Smart, stolen by Tristan Thompson  
0:24 +2 Tristan Thompson made dunk, assist by LeBron James 51-68
0:06   Personal foul on Jeff Green  
0:06 +1 Jayson Tatum made 1st of 2 free throws 52-68
0:06 +1 Jayson Tatum made 2nd of 2 free throws 53-68
0:03   Personal foul on Semi Ojeleye  
0:00   J.R. Smith missed turnaround jump shot  
0:00   Team rebound  
0:00   End of period  

3rd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:42   J.R. Smith missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:37   Defensive rebound by Jaylen Brown  
11:37   Personal foul on George Hill  
11:22 +2 Al Horford made jump shot, assist by Jayson Tatum 55-68
11:05   LeBron James missed driving layup  
11:05   Team rebound  
10:53   Out of bounds turnover on J.R. Smith  
10:34   Al Horford missed hook shot  
10:31   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
10:27   Shooting foul on Jaylen Brown  
10:27   LeBron James missed 1st of 2 free throws  
10:27   Team rebound  
10:27   LeBron James missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
10:25   Defensive rebound by Jayson Tatum  
10:16   Offensive foul on Marcus Morris  
10:16   Offensive foul on Marcus Morris  
9:54   Bad pass turnover on Kevin Love, stolen by Terry Rozier  
9:49 +2 Jaylen Brown made alley-oop shot, assist by Marcus Morris 57-68
9:27   Kevin Love missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:24   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
9:11 +2 Al Horford made layup 59-68
8:58 +2 LeBron James made driving layup 59-70
8:46   Shooting foul on Kevin Love  
8:46   Marcus Morris missed 1st of 2 free throws  
8:46   Team rebound  
8:46 +1 Marcus Morris made 2nd of 2 free throws 60-70
8:29 +2 LeBron James made layup 60-72
8:16   Jayson Tatum missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:13   Defensive rebound by Tristan Thompson  
8:02   Personal foul on Jayson Tatum  
7:46   Kevin Love missed finger-roll layup  
7:44   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
7:40   Shooting foul on Kevin Love  
7:40 +1 Jayson Tatum made 1st of 2 free throws 61-72
7:40   Jayson Tatum missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
7:35   Offensive rebound by Jayson Tatum  
7:40   Lost ball turnover on Jayson Tatum, stolen by LeBron James  
7:28 +2 LeBron James made driving layup 61-74
7:18   Jaylen Brown missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:17   Defensive rebound by Jeff Green  
7:11   Personal foul on Terry Rozier  
7:03   Bad pass turnover on Jeff Green, stolen by Terry Rozier  
7:00 +2 Jayson Tatum made dunk, assist by Terry Rozier 63-74
6:43 +2