BOSTON — The last time the Boston Celtics faced Cleveland, they pulled off a miraculous comeback with a buzzer-beating basket.
There would be no last-second shot on Friday night, nor was there a Celtics victory, as the Cleveland Cavaliers held on for a 97-91 win over the Celtics.
With the victory, Cleveland snapped a 10-game losing streak while the Celtics lost for the eighth time in their last 11 games.
Playing without Paul Pierce (sore right ankle) and Kevin Garnett (inflammation, left ankle), the Celtics got another injury scare in the fourth quarter when Avery Bradley had to leave with what appeared at first to be a shoulder-related injury.
Bradley missed all of training camp and the first 30 games of the season while recovering from surgery to both shoulders. Although he did not re-enter the game, he was able to return to the bench with what team officials said was a bruised left collarbone.
Regardless of who steps on the floor, the expectation is that they will compete. On Friday, few of the C's usual bench players stepped up their games with what was an increase in minutes.
Shavlik Randolph was the exception, however. He scored a career-high 16 points to go with seven rebounds before fouling out.
Boston led by as many as eight points in the first half, but never seemed to put enough distance between themselves and the Cavs to be comfortable. Keeping Cleveland close was the play of Tristan Thompson, who had a season-high 21 points against the Celtics earlier this season. Thompson, who finished with a career-high 29 points along with 17 rebounds, had 21 points by the half.
Boston found itself on the short end of a 9-0 run in the third quarter and trailed, 64-62. The Cavs soon pushed their lead up to 68-63 following a pair of free throws after Randolph was whistled for his fifth personal foul with 3:19 to play in the third, and continued to pull away courtesy of a 27-6 run in the third and fourth quarters that proved to be too much for the C's to overcome.