Celtics overcome letdown to beat Bobcats

982411.jpg

Celtics overcome letdown to beat Bobcats

BOSTON -- Paul Pierce knew it could happen. He had seen it play out during his career: Younger, struggling team comes into town to face veteran team on a roll; veteran team builds a lead, gets comfortable, and younger team fights back.

Who prevails?

On Monday the Boston Celtics led the Charlotte Bobcats by as many as 18 points in the second quarter. Rather than dominating the second half, the Celtics watched the Bobcats erase the deficit and tie the game with 8:20 to go in the third.

"These are the types of team that if they get any confidence, they can really get it going," Pierce said. "Record really doesn't matter, that's with any team in the league, especially when they're playing against the Boston Celtics. I remember when I was on a lot of losing teams and we came in and got our confidence rolling, we felt like we could win these games. So we have to go out there and try to get off to a strong start and not take them lightly."

Pierce remembers games against Anfernee Hardaway and Grant Hill that fell under that category.

This time around, the veteran team broke the tie, went on a 7-0 run, and outscored the younger squad, 24-19, in the final quarter to earn their sixth straight victory, 100-89.

"We've come back from 18-point leads," said Rajon Rondo. "You're never safe in this league. You can have a double-digit lead, but it's a matter of time before guys make shots. They were struggling in the first half and hitting shots in the second, hitting some tough shots. They banged a couple in, got rhythm-three's, and got to the free throw line."

With the win, the Celtics improved to 20-17. The Bobcats dropped to 9-28. Their fight didn't go unnoticed, though.

"I thought we did (let up) at times tonight," said head coach Doc Rivers. "One of the things -- and every coach I talk to about them says the same thing -- they just keep playing. That's hard to do, but it's really nice to see. Those guys, they started off so well and then went on this struggle, and yet they come out and put the effort out every night. They're giving you their best."

The Bobcats will continue to fight their way through the season -- "Can't lay down, nobody is going to feel sorry for you," said Ben Gordon -- while the Celtics will look to fight off any targets on their backs and go after those on other teams.

"The other teams are NBA teams and they're going to keep fighting and making shots," said Rivers. "And when they do, it's nice that we can catch it instead of losing those leads and losing the game."

Irving takes over in third quarter, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 4, 112-99

Irving takes over in third quarter, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 4, 112-99

CLEVELAND – They had them right where they wanted them.

LeBron James was in foul trouble.

Kyrie Irving had not yet heated up, and the lead hovered above double figures but seemed oh-so-close to creeping upwards of 20 points if the Celtics did a better job of making open shots in the first half.

Those missed shots, combined with a Kyrie Irving takeover in the third quarter, would prove to be part of the narrative for Game 4 – missed opportunities - as the Cavs rallied for a 112-99 Game 4 win.

Cleveland now leads the best-of-seven series 3-1, with a chance to eliminate the Celtics in Boston on Thursday and advance to the NBA Finals where a well-rested Golden State team will be awaiting them.

Irving led all scorers with a playoff career-high 42 points, 21 of which came in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Boston’s Avery Bradley had 19 points while Jae Crowder (18 points), Al Horford (16), and Kelly Olynyk (15) also finished with double figures scoring.

"He put the team on his back," said Tristan Thompson, regarding Irving's play. "He still has another gear."

Boston spent all of the fourth quarter playing from behind, failing to get that necessary made shot or defensive turnover or stop that they needed to slow down Cleveland’s growing momentum.

And with Irving making a slew of clutch baskets that put Cleveland in control, it was James’ turn to put the game away.

He did just that, finishing with 34 points which included 15 in the fourth quarter.

But for a good chunk of Tuesday’s Game 4 matchup, it looked as though the Celtics were coming back to Boston for Game 5 with the series tied up.

It was an odd game for sure, with nothing being any stranger than LeBron James being whistled for not one, not two, not three, but four personal fouls … in the first half.

The fourth came when he was whistled for an offensive foul against Terry Rozier with 6:46 to play and Boston ahead by 10 points.

With James on the bench, Cleveland managed to play Boston to a standstill as the half ended with the Celtics still leading by 10 points (57-47).

Cleveland slowly crept back in the game in the third, and eventually went ahead 73-72 following a pair of free throws by James with 3:15 to play in the quarter.

The Cavs were able to lead by as many as five points in the third quarter which ended with Cleveland ahead 87-80 as Irving scored the last 14 points for Cleveland which included a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that would be the final points scored in the quarter.

Cleveland’s strong finish to the third was a striking contrast to how the game began.

Boston got off to its best start in this series after a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder put the Celtics ahead 18-11.

The Celtics went ahead 22-13 after a pair of free throws by Jonas Jerebko and would eventually lead by as many as 16 points.

Meanwhile, James – the man Crowder was defending most of the time early on – had six points in the first quarter on 3-for-7 shooting.

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBIs as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBIs as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

BOSTON - Xander Bogaerts had three hits and three RBIs, Dustin Pedroia had a two-run double during a four-run seventh inning and the Boston Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 11-6 on Tuesday night.

Rick Porcello (3-5) won for just the second time at home despite allowing 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struck out four and allowed five runs, four earned.

Joey Gallo got his 14th homer for Texas, and Shin-Soo Choo went 2 for 5 with two RBIs.

Texas entered having won 11 of 12. The 11 runs allowed marked a season high.

Andrew Cashner (1-4) pitched five innings, allowing five runs, six hits and four walks. He also threw a pair of wild pitches, one of them allowing Bogaerts to score from third and put Boston up 2-1 after three.