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.

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – For most of his life, basketball has come easy to James Young.
 
So, the idea that in training camp he wasn’t just fighting to get playing time but also to stay in the NBA, was a jarring eye-opener.
 
To Young’s credit, he rose to the challenge and beat out R.J. Hunter for the Celtics' final roster spot.
 
And while Young’s playing time has been sporadic, he has done a much better job of maximizing his opportunities.
 
So, as the Celtics roll into Detroit to face the Pistons, Young finds himself playing his best basketball as a pro, good enough to make coach Brad Stevens not hesitate to put him in the game in the fourth quarter of a close matchup.
 
“It’s exciting to come back home,” Young, who grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., told CSNNE.com. “A lot of my family will be there. I’m not thinking about me. I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team.”
 
And lately, he’s getting an opportunity to do just that beyond being someone who helps in practice.
 
We saw that in the 107-97 loss at Toronto on Friday. Young came off the bench to play four minutes, 36 seconds in the fourth quarter with only two other Celtics reserves, Marcus Smart (8:39) and Jonas Jerebko (5:10) seeing more action down the stretch.
 
“It means a lot,” Young said. “He’s starting to trust me a little bit more. That’s a good thing. I’m just trying to do little things; rebound, get defensive stops and score when I get a chance.”
 
The fact that his scoring is just starting to take shape helps shed some light on why he has been buried so deep on the Celtics bench.
 
For his first couple seasons, Young seemed a hesitant shooter physically overwhelmed by opponents too strong for him to defend as well as too physical for him to limit their effectiveness.
 
But this season, he has done a better job at holding his own as a defender while making himself an available scoring option who can play off his teammates.
 
Young is averaging just 2.9 points per game this season, but he’s shooting a career-high 48.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on 3’s, which is also a career-high.
 
Getting on the floor more often has in many ways provided yet another boost of confidence to Young.
 
“I’m getting used to the flow of the game playing more consistently,” Young said. “I know what to do. It’s slowing up a little more and it’s getting easier.”
 

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.

Lady Gaga.

More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.

Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice. 

"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.

Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.

"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."