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Truth is: Cavaliers beat Celtics 121-99 on Paul Pierce's day

BOSTON (AP) LeBron James led the new-look Cavaliers to a blowout in Boston with an individual performance reminiscent of the rivalry's heyday.

And this time, Paul Pierce was sitting courtside in street clothes, unable to do anything about it.

With the former Celtics great waiting to see his No. 34 raised to the Boston Garden rafters, James shook off a first-quarter leg injury to score 24 points with 10 assists and eight rebounds to give Cleveland a 121-99 victory on Sunday.

In their first appearances since being acquired at the trade deadline, Jordan Clarkson scored 17 points, Rodney Hood had 15, George Hill had 12 and Larry Nance Jr. scored five. The foursome practiced with the Cavs for the first time on Saturday.

''I know the guys that are here are very excited about this opportunity,'' James said. ''It's my job to as the leader of this team to make sure that I acclimate the new four guys to be around a culture that's built around winning.''

James scored 13 in the second quarter - eight of them during a 13-2 run that turned a one-point deficit into a double-digit lead. The Celtics made it 64-55 on the first basket of the third quarter but never got within 10 again.

As the Cavaliers opened a 27-point lead midway through the fourth, the crowd began chanting ''We want Paul Pierce!'' But he remained in his baseline seat, awaiting the postgame ceremony that would raise his No. 34 to the TD Garden rafters - the 23rd person in the history of the NBA's most-decorated franchise to be so honored.

''It definitely gave me chills, especially with LeBron out there,'' Pierce told reporters afterward. ''I wanted to be out there.''

The current Celtics, who have spent much of the season in first place in the East, could have used him.

''Yeah, we stunk,'' coach Brad Stevens said. ''But they were really good. They had a lot to do with that.''

PLAYOFF RACE

Terry Rozier scored 21 with nine assists and Kyrie Irving scored 18 against his former team before sitting out the fourth quarter. The Celtics have lost three of four to fall behind Toronto in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Cavaliers, who have won three straight, are 5 1/2 games behind Boston. To help make a push for their fourth straight NBA finals, Cleveland traded away six players and acquired four at the deadline.

''All of our new guys performed and played well,'' coach Tyronn Lue said. ''So that's a good sign.''

THE TRUTH

Pierce watched the game from a baseline seat, under the basket where the Celtics scored 42 points in the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the finals to clinch their 17th NBA championship. On the other side of the basket were former coach Doc Rivers and former teammates Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Antoine Walker.

Timeouts featured tribute videos from Rivers, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Pierce's college coach, Roy Williams.

After his family joined him in hoisting the retired number banner to the rafters, Pierce said having his number retired by the NBA's most-decorated franchise is the ultimate honor - bigger than the Hall of Fame.

''When you're forever with the Celtics, you're forever,'' he said.

JAMES INJURY

James banged into Aron Baynes in the lane with about five minutes left in the first quarter and hobbled off the court, favoring his right leg. He came back in with nine minutes left in the half and hit a jumper to tie it 40-all before his outburst that helped the Cavs pull away.

He sat out the fourth quarter, losing the chance for an 11th triple-double this season and third straight. James said he took a knee to the quad muscle but hoped to be fully recovered before playing the Thunder on Tuesday night.

''Baynes is a big boy. He should be on `Game of Thrones,''' James said. ''Him and Steven Adams, and I've got to see him next.''

IT SUPPORT

The trades mooted a mini controversy over whether the Celtics would honor Isaiah Thomas in his return to Boston. A fan favorite during his two-plus seasons in green, Thomas was traded last summer in the deal that brought Irving to the Celtics.

Thomas balked at being recognized on his first visit back with the Cavaliers because he was injured. And Pierce balked at sharing the stage with him on Sunday, Cleveland's only other trip to Boston.

But Thomas was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers at the deadline, meaning he isn't scheduled to return to TD Garden this year.

SMART UPDATE

Stevens said Marcus Smart continues to recover from a lacerated right hand, which has kept him out since he cut his hand on broken glass at the team hotel on Jan. 24 and needed stitches to close the wound.

''Not going to expect to see him on Wednesday night,'' Stevens said. ''Hopeful that he will be back and ready to go after the All-Star break. But we'll see.''

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: At Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Celtics: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

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Key Players
L. James
23 SF
K. Irving
11 PG
32.8 Min. Per Game 32.8
24.7 Pts. Per Game 24.7
5.0 Ast. Per Game 5.0
3.6 Reb. Per Game 3.6
54.3 Field Goal % 48.5
54.4 Three Point % 48.2
74.2 Free Throw % 88.6
+ 3 Terry Rozier made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Daniel Theis 0:18
  Offensive rebound by Daniel Theis 0:19
  Abdel Nader missed free throw 0:22
  Shooting foul on Larry Nance Jr. 0:22
+ 2 Abdel Nader made layup 0:22
  Lost ball turnover on Cedi Osman, stolen by Greg Monroe 0:26
  Defensive rebound by Larry Nance Jr. 0:45
  Terry Rozier missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:45
  Defensive rebound by Daniel Theis 0:49
  Jose Calderon missed jump shot 0:52
+ 2 Semi Ojeleye made hook shot, assist by Greg Monroe 1:08
Team Stats
Points 121 99
Field Goals 45-84 (53.6%) 36-89 (40.4%)
3-Pointers 16-30 (53.3%) 10-38 (26.3%)
Free Throws 15-20 (75.0%) 17-22 (77.3%)
Total Rebounds 48 54
Offensive 5 13
Defensive 36 30
Team 7 11
Assists 22 22
Steals 7 3
Blocks 6 4
Turnovers 11 14
Fouls 20 14
Technicals 0 0
24 PTS, 8 REB, 10 AST
21 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST
1234T
away team logo Cavaliers 33-22 31333126121
home team logo Celtics 40-18 3220222599
Team Stats
away team logo Cavaliers 33-22 103.5 PPG 43.7 RPG 19.3 APG
home team logo Celtics 40-18 110.3 PPG 46.1 RPG 25.6 APG
Key Players
L. James SF PPG RPG APG FG%
T. Rozier PG 8.7 PPG 4.3 RPG 2.4 APG 39.4 FG%
Top Scorers
L. James SF 24 PTS 8 REB 10 AST
T. Rozier PG 21 PTS 9 REB 5 AST
53.6 FG% 40.4
53.3 3PT FG% 26.3
75.0 FT% 77.3
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
L. James 27 24 8 10 1 1 2 1 9/20 2/5 4/7 0 8 52 +23
J. Smith 28 15 6 1 1 2 1 1 6/7 3/4 0/0 0 6 25 +17
G. Hill 21 12 3 1 0 0 3 3 3/8 2/4 4/4 0 3 14 +17
C. Osman 29 12 5 1 1 0 2 2 4/8 2/3 2/4 1 4 18 +8
T. Thompson 27 6 4 0 0 1 0 3 3/4 0/0 0/0 2 2 11 +18
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
L. James 27 24 8 10 1 1 2 1 9/20 2/5 4/7 0 8 52 +23
J. Smith 28 15 6 1 1 2 1 1 6/7 3/4 0/0 0 6 25 +17
G. Hill 21 12 3 1 0 0 3 3 3/8 2/4 4/4 0 3 14 +17
C. Osman 29 12 5 1 1 0 2 2 4/8 2/3 2/4 1 4 18 +8
T. Thompson 27 6 4 0 0 1 0 3 3/4 0/0 0/0 2 2 11 +18
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Clarkson 23 17 3 1 2 0 0 1 7/11 3/4 0/0 0 3 24 +8
R. Hood 18 15 3 0 1 1 1 0 6/11 3/6 0/0 0 3 19 +14
J. Green 16 10 3 1 0 0 2 2 3/6 0/1 4/4 2 1 13 +2
L. Nance Jr. 20 5 4 3 1 0 0 4 2/5 0/1 1/1 0 4 16 +4
K. Korver 15 3 2 2 0 1 0 2 1/2 1/2 0/0 0 2 10 +8
A. Zizic 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 0 2 -3
J. Holland 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 -3
J. Calderon 3 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0/1 0/0 0/0 0 0 4 -3
K. Love - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Perrantes - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 233 121 41 22 7 6 11 20 45/84 16/30 15/20 5 36 208 +110
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Irving 26 18 3 5 0 0 2 0 7/14 1/7 3/4 0 3 29 -19
M. Morris 24 17 3 0 0 0 0 2 6/12 3/6 2/2 2 1 20 -18
A. Horford 24 9 6 6 1 2 4 0 4/8 1/4 0/0 0 6 26 -12
J. Tatum 27 9 2 1 1 0 2 3 4/11 1/2 0/0 1 1 12 -18
J. Brown 32 5 7 1 0 0 1 2 2/9 0/5 1/2 1 6 13 -15
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Irving 26 18 3 5 0 0 2 0 7/14 1/7 3/4 0 3 29 -19
M. Morris 24 17 3 0 0 0 0 2 6/12 3/6 2/2 2 1 20 -18
A. Horford 24 9 6 6 1 2 4 0 4/8 1/4 0/0 0 6 26 -12
J. Tatum 27 9 2 1 1 0 2 3 4/11 1/2 0/0 1 1 12 -18
J. Brown 32 5 7 1 0 0 1 2 2/9 0/5 1/2 1 6 13 -15
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
T. Rozier 33 21 9 5 0 1 1 1 6/15 3/8 6/7 4 5 40 -12
G. Monroe 11 5 5 1 1 1 1 1 2/4 0/0 1/2 2 3 13 -5
A. Nader 10 5 0 1 0 0 3 0 2/4 1/2 0/1 0 0 4 +3
S. Ojeleye 24 4 1 0 0 0 0 2 1/5 0/4 2/2 0 1 5 -15
D. Theis 11 4 3 2 0 0 0 2 1/2 0/0 2/2 2 1 11 +8
A. Baynes 13 2 4 0 0 0 0 1 1/5 0/0 0/0 1 3 6 -7
G. Hayward - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S. Larkin - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Bird - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Smart - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Allen - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Yabusele - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 235 99 43 22 3 4 14 14 36/89 10/38 17/22 13 30 179 -110