CLE
BOS

No Text

James dominates, Cavs beat Celtics 114-91 in East showdown

BOSTON (AP) LeBron James and the Cavaliers sent a message to the Celtics in their final matchup during the regular season: They won't relinquish the Eastern Conference's top seed that easily.

James had 36 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and the Cleveland ran past the Boston 114-91 on Wednesday night to move back into first place in the East.

The teams had identical records entering their final regular-season matchup, but Cleveland (51-27) now has a one-game lead over Boston (50-28) with only four games to play. Cleveland also holds the tiebreaker with the Celtics for the top seed, if needed.

''Just trying to get our team right going down the stretch brings out the best in me,'' James said. ''We knew we were coming to a hostile building tonight and just wanted to try and play our game ... and we did that.''

Kyrie Irving added 19 points and five assists.

The Cavaliers played without starting center Tristan Thompson, who was out with a sprained right thumb. But they made due without him, surging at the start of the second quarter and taking as much as a 29-point lead in the third quarter. They also outrebounded Boston 51-38.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 26 points.

''We laid an egg tonight,'' Thomas said. ''There's no way around that. We didn't take advantage of the opportunity that we had tonight.''

James' output has increased noticeably over the last week as the regular season winds down. He entered Wednesday coming off back-to-back triple doubles in Sunday's double-overtime win against Indiana and a blowout win over Orlando Tuesday, while logging 89 minutes over those two games.

He played another 39 minutes Wednesday, finally going to the bench with 4:04 remaining.

The Celtics came out of the gate stale offensively. Thomas went 5 of 9 from the field in first quarter, while the rest of his teammates were just 3 of 12.

Cleveland seized on Boston's sluggishness at the start of the second quarter, outscoring the Celtics 22-4 over the first 6:40 of the quarter.

James was active on both ends during the run, exploding to the rim for several easy baskets. He also did it on the defensive end, notably stuffing Marcus Smart with a two-handed block .

Even with Thompson out, this was the healthiest Cleveland team Boston had seen since the teams' first meeting in November.

Trade acquisition Kyle Korver recently returned to action from a sore left foot and J.R. Smith was back after missing nearly three months following thumb surgery. Kevin Love is also back in the fold after he underwent a knee operation.

The Celtics are going in the opposite direction on the injury front, with Avery Bradley playing Wednesday despite dealing with stomach issue that had sidelined him for two straight games and Jae Crowder playing through a sore left elbow.

James said it's to be determined whether his team has truly turned a page this week.

''Only time will tell,'' he said. ''But we played Cavs basketball tonight and when we do that we're a pretty good team. So we've got four more games left and we can see how we can finish the season off.''

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: It was James' 22nd 30-point game. ... Won for just the second time this season on the second night of a back-to-back (were 1-9 entering Wednesday). ... Thompson's absence ended his streak of consecutive games played at 447 - the longest in team history and the longest active streak in league.

Celtics: It was just their third 20-point loss this season. ... Were just 7 of 33 from the 3-point line. ... Shot just 8 for 22 in the second quarter.

QUOTABLE

''I thought they were better, quicker to the ball, you name it - they were quicker in every category, and made it really tough on us. We didn't match them.'' - Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

THOMPSON TIMELINE

The Cavs said an MRI confirmed Thompson's thumb sprain and at a minimum he will miss Friday's home matchup with Atlanta as well.

While Frye started in his place Wednesday, another option will be Larry Sanders, who Cleveland recalled from its D-League affiliate in Canton. Sanders was out of the league for two years before the Cavs signed him on March 13.

''We're gonna get him out there and just kind of see what he can do,'' Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. ''We're confident that he can do some good things.''

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: Host the Hawks on Friday.

Celtics: Play at Atlanta on Thursday.

---

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

---

Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower

Copyright 2017 by Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
L. James
23 SF
I. Thomas
4 PG
33.5 Min. Per Game 33.5
28.3 Pts. Per Game 28.3
5.7 Ast. Per Game 5.7
2.6 Reb. Per Game 2.6
52.7 Field Goal % 46.4
48.6 Three Point % 44.5
67.7 Free Throw % 90.8
  Bad pass turnover on Derrick Williams 0:12
  Defensive rebound by Larry Sanders 0:30
  Gerald Green missed 2nd of 2 free throws 0:30
  Team rebound 0:30
  Gerald Green missed 1st of 2 free throws 0:30
  Personal foul on DeAndre Liggins 0:30
  Team rebound 0:31
  Terry Rozier missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:33
  Defensive rebound by Jordan Mickey 0:43
  Iman Shumpert missed layup, blocked by Jordan Mickey 0:45
+ 3 Terry Rozier made 3-pt. jump shot 1:00
Team Stats
Points 114 91
Field Goals 43-92 (46.7%) 33-81 (40.7%)
3-Pointers 11-36 (30.6%) 7-33 (21.2%)
Free Throws 17-18 (94.4%) 18-29 (62.1%)
Total Rebounds 55 54
Offensive 13 8
Defensive 38 30
Team 4 16
Assists 19 21
Steals 7 6
Blocks 5 4
Turnovers 10 13
Fouls 26 18
Technicals 0 1
36 PTS, 10 REB, 6 AST
26 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST
1234T
away team logo Cavaliers 51-27 19383324114
home team logo Celtics 50-28 2022242591
Team Stats
away team logo Cavaliers 51-27 104.3 PPG 42.5 RPG 20.9 APG
home team logo Celtics 50-28 112.7 PPG 44.5 RPG 26.5 APG
Key Players
L. James SF PPG RPG APG FG%
I. Thomas PG PPG RPG APG FG%
Top Scorers
L. James SF 36 PTS 10 REB 6 AST
I. Thomas PG 26 PTS 4 REB 6 AST
46.7 FG% 40.7
30.6 3PT FG% 21.2
94.4 FT% 62.1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
L. James 36 10 6 14/22 1/4 7/7 3 39 0 2 3 2 8 +32 57
K. Irving 19 1 5 7/18 1/6 4/5 4 32 2 1 0 0 1 +14 33
K. Love 15 16 1 5/15 1/5 4/4 4 32 0 0 0 5 11 +18 33
J. Smith 12 3 0 5/10 2/7 0/0 1 31 2 1 0 1 2 +19 18
C. Frye 10 8 1 3/7 2/6 2/2 3 17 2 0 1 3 5 +6 21
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
L. James 36 10 6 14/22 1/4 7/7 3 39 0 2 3 2 8 +32 57
K. Irving 19 1 5 7/18 1/6 4/5 4 32 2 1 0 0 1 +14 33
K. Love 15 16 1 5/15 1/5 4/4 4 32 0 0 0 5 11 +18 33
J. Smith 12 3 0 5/10 2/7 0/0 1 31 2 1 0 1 2 +19 18
C. Frye 10 8 1 3/7 2/6 2/2 3 17 2 0 1 3 5 +6 21
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
R. Jefferson 7 0 0 3/3 1/1 0/0 0 10 1 0 0 0 0 +5 8
K. Korver 6 2 0 2/2 2/2 0/0 3 19 0 0 0 0 2 +19 8
I. Shumpert 5 4 1 2/6 1/3 0/0 4 28 0 0 2 1 3 +6 9
D. Liggins 2 0 0 1/2 0/0 0/0 2 4 0 0 2 0 0 -3 0
J. Jones 2 2 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 4 0 0 0 0 2 -3 4
De. Williams 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 -3 -1
L. Sanders 0 2 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 1 4 0 0 0 1 1 -3 2
De. Williams 0 3 5 0/5 0/2 0/0 1 16 0 1 1 0 3 +8 13
T. Thompson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Felder - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 114 51 19 43/92 11/36 17/18 26 240 7 5 10 13 38 +115 205
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
I. Thomas 26 4 6 9/19 1/8 7/8 1 33 0 1 4 0 4 -10 39
J. Crowder 13 4 2 5/11 2/5 1/2 4 29 1 0 1 3 1 -15 21
A. Horford 12 7 3 4/6 1/1 3/3 3 28 0 0 2 1 6 -13 23
A. Johnson 8 3 1 4/4 0/0 0/0 2 14 1 0 0 1 2 -10 14
A. Bradley 4 7 1 1/8 0/3 2/4 2 34 1 0 1 2 5 -22 13
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
I. Thomas 26 4 6 9/19 1/8 7/8 1 33 0 1 4 0 4 -10 39
J. Crowder 13 4 2 5/11 2/5 1/2 4 29 1 0 1 3 1 -15 21
A. Horford 12 7 3 4/6 1/1 3/3 3 28 0 0 2 1 6 -13 23
A. Johnson 8 3 1 4/4 0/0 0/0 2 14 1 0 0 1 2 -10 14
A. Bradley 4 7 1 1/8 0/3 2/4 2 34 1 0 1 2 5 -22 13
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
K. Olynyk 12 4 0 5/8 1/3 1/2 3 16 0 0 1 1 3 -9 15
T. Rozier 6 0 0 2/5 1/3 1/2 1 9 0 0 0 0 0 -14 6
M. Smart 4 2 4 1/8 1/4 1/2 1 25 0 0 1 0 2 -19 13
J. Brown 2 2 1 1/7 0/3 0/0 1 19 1 1 2 0 2 +1 6
G. Green 2 0 1 1/3 0/2 0/2 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 +2 5
J. Jerebko 1 3 2 0/1 0/1 1/2 0 14 0 0 0 0 3 -6 8
J. Mickey 1 2 0 0/1 0/0 1/2 0 5 1 1 0 0 2 0 5
J. Young 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
T. Zeller - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Jackson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 91 38 21 33/81 7/33 18/29 18 241 6 4 13 8 30 -115 169