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.