Celtics fall flat in fourth, lose to Cavs, 88-87

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Celtics fall flat in fourth, lose to Cavs, 88-87

BOSTON The Boston Celtics fall back to below-average status following Sunday's 88-87 loss to Cleveland, a game in which the C's had under control for most of the night.

Boston (9-10) seemingly had the game wrapped up with a few minutes remaining, only for the scrappy Cavaliers to cut into Boston's lead and rally for the win.

And leading the comeback was Anderson Varejao, who had 18 points and nine rebounds.

Following a slew of Cleveland misses in the game's closing seconds, Varejao was able to force a Brandon Bass rebound out of his hands, and later gain control of it and call a time-out.

That set up a game-winning basket by Kyrie Irving with 2.6 seconds to play.

After a Celtics time-out, Paul Pierce's potential game-winning jumper was off the mark as time expired.

It was a disappointing finish to what had been a pretty solid performance most of the night.

But the C's allowed Cleveland to hang around too long.

Big mistake, Green Team.

Prior to the end-of-game collapse by the Celtics, it had been a great return to the lineup for the C's and Ray Allen.

Look no further than his first 10 points coming in just nine minutes of playing time.

As well as Allen and the Big Three played, the Celtics once again got strong play from their role players.

Chris Wilcox, in his third game back after missing the previous six with a left calf injury, continues to give the C's a strong inside presence defensively and on the boards while coming off the bench.

In addition to his four points, he also grabbed six rebounds. And seldom-used Sasha Pavlovic had four points, including a highlight-worthy dunk along the baseline that got a good rise out of Celtics Nation.

For the Cavaliers, Irving, the No. 1 overall pick in last June's NBA draft, lived up to the hype while scoring a game-high 23 points (he made his first six shots before finally missing) along with six assists and four rebounds.

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Chris Sale brings with him to Boston some attitude. He also brings a measure of defiance and, perhaps, a little bit of crazy.

All of which the Red Sox starting staff just may need. And if Sale pitches as he has for much of the past five years, he'll probably be celebrated for it.

I still wonder how it will all play here, especially if he underachieves.

What would we do to him locally if he refused to pitch because he didn't like a certain kind of uniform variation the team was going with? What would we say if he not only refused to pitch, but took a knife to his teammates' uniforms and the team had to scrap the promotion? Sale did exactly that in Chicago last year, after which he threw his manager under the bus for not standing by his players and attacked the team for putting business ahead of winning.

All because he didn't want to wear an untucked jersey?

"(The White Sox throwback uniforms) are uncomfortable and unorthodox,'' said Sale at the time. "I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it.''

Wearing a throwback jersey would alter his mechanics? Was that a joke? It's hard to imagine he would get away with that in Boston.

Ditto for his support of Adam LaRoche and his involvement of that goofy story last March.
 
LaRoche, you'll remember, retired when the White Sox had the nerve to tell him that his 14-year-old son could not spend as much time around the team as he had grown accustomed to. Sale responded by pitching a fit.

“We got bald-face lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust,'' said Sale of team president Kenny Williams. ``You can’t come tell the players it was the coaches and then tell the coaches it was the players, and then come in and say something completely different. If we’re all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

On what planet does allowing a 14-year-old kid in a clubhouse have anything to do with winning a title? In what universe does a throwback jersey have anything to do with mechanics? If David Price had said things that stupid last year, he'd still be hearing about it. And it won't be any different for Sale.

Thankfully, Sale's defiance and feistiness extends to the mound. Sale isn't afraid to pitch inside and protect his teammates, leading the American League in hit batsmen each of the last two years. He doesn't back down and loves a fight. And while that makes him sound a little goofy off the field, it should play well on it.

In the meantime, the Sox better hope he likes those red alternate jerseys they wear on Fridays.

E-mail Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast appears daily on CSN.