O'Neal makes most of time on court

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O'Neal makes most of time on court

BOSTON Jermaine O'Neal left the floor early in Boston's 81-73 win over Toronto, a scene that has never had a happy ending for him or the Celtics.

Not to worry, Celtics Nation.

O'Neal having a limited role on Wednesday was part of the game plan coming in, according to Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.

"I told Jermaine before the game that we were going to play Greg (Stiemsma) a lot," Rivers said. "We're going to try and get (Chris) Wilcox in that one little stretch in the second half. So I told him he wasn't going to play a lot."

But even with his minutes limited, there was no mistaking the impact that he made on defense.

O'Neal played less than 12 minutes, but still racked up four blocked shots and as well as a charge.

"His blocked shots, his timing, they're just amazing," Rivers said. "He looks great. What you saw is what he's been all camp. You rarely see a guy that blocks shots and takes charges. He does both. that's just unusual."

Celtics guard Keyon Dooling played with the Milwaukee Bucks last season, and said he considers Bucks center Andrew Bogut as a player like O'Neal in terms of having the ability to block shots and draw charges.

Still, Dooling recognizes that players who excel at both are rare.

"It's awesome to have guys like JO at this point in their career," Dooling said. "Where he understands the game, he understands his body, he understands what he can and can't do. He led our team in the preseason with charges. That's something that's very undervalued in our league, and that's points in the paint that he's taking away. He's going to be very important, especially with our lack of a lot of size."

Dooling added, "It really does something special for you team when you have a guy at the rim who can not only block shots but take charges, given the opportunity. It definitely brings an added dimension for us."

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.