Cavaliers 97, Celtics 89

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CLEVELAND (AP)—Ricky Davis returned to Gund Arena and hardly recognized the place. The crowd was rowdy, the Cavs’ mascot made fun of him and he got booed.

A lot has happened since he got traded.

Rookie LeBron James scored 24 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers made sure they didn’t give Davis anything more to say with a 97-89 win over the Boston Celtics on Monday night.

“They got the best of that one,” said Davis, who was back in Cleveland for the first time since he was dealt to Boston in a six-player swap on Dec. 15.

James played the final 10:19 with a strained left calf muscle, but hit a crucial 3-pointer and grabbed a big rebound down the stretch as the Cavs snapped a three-game losing streak.

“It tightened up, but I was able to come back,” James said. “I’ll be all right.”

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 19 points and 16 rebounds as Cleveland also broke a 13-game slide against the Celtics. The Cavs hadn’t defeated Boston since Nov. 4, 2000.

Most important for Cleveland fans was the Cavs beat Davis. Shortly after the trade, the sometimes selfish guard criticized the Cavs, their front office and the city, calling Cleveland “a black hole.”

Davis apologized to Cavaliers’ fans about the remarks following Monday morning’s shootaround. But that didn’t stop them from booing him from the moment he came in with 3:45 left in the first quarter.

During a timeout in the second quarter, Moondog, Cleveland’s floppy-eared mascot, mopped the floor with a No. 31 Cavs jersey—Davis’ number with Cleveland.

“I heard the crowd on that one,” Davis said. “Whatever.”

Davis scored 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting and had four turnovers in 28 minutes.

“It’s always emotional when you come back to somewhere you got traded from,” said Davis, who came to Cleveland from Miami in a 2001 trade. “I didn’t get enough shots tonight to get going.”

Paul Pierce scored 32 points—19 in the second quarter—for Boston, but made just 1 of 7 field goals in the fourth, when the Celtics scored only 13 points.

“They changed some things up on me in the second half, and I didn’t get as many looks,” Pierce said.

Eric Williams, who came over from Boston in the deal along with Tony Battie and Kedrick Brown, had 16 points, nine in the fourth quarter. Jeff McInnis had nine assists for Cleveland.

After James drained a 3-pointer with 8:49 left, Williams hit a jumper and a 3-pointer as the Cavs went on a 9-0 run to take a 92-84 lead with 5:42 remaining.

However, Pierce shot the lights out—the scoreboard lights, that is—on a jumper with 4:53 left. Pierce first faked James into the air, drew the foul and hit a 20-footer to bring the Celtics within 92-86.

Just as Pierce’s ball went through the net, all the arena’s scoreboards went dark and it took roughly 10 minutes for the problem to be fixed.

During the stoppage, Moondog entertained the crowd by attempting a few overhead shots from halfcourt with his back to the basket. He finally hit one after several tries.

As the crowd roared, Pierce joined the fun, trying three flings over his head that all missed their target.

“I make those every day. Honest. Every day,” Pierce said. “The rims aren’t straight or something here. They’re not lined up evenly.”

When play resumed, the Celtics remained cold from the field as they scored just five points in the final 8:18. Boston was just 5-of-19 in the final period.

Pierce refused to blame the scoreboard outage for Boston’s poor shooting.

“That’s not an excuse,” he said. “Both teams had to sit.”

Notes

The Celtics are 10-17 since Davis arrived. The Cavs are 14-14 without him. … James (19 years, 41 days) became the youngest player in NBA history to score 1,000 points. … The Cavs are 2-10 in national TV games. … James hinted he could still take part in the Slam Dunk contest during NBA All-Star weekend. “A lot of people want me to do it, but I don’t know,” he said. Could he win it? “I think so, if I got in it.” … The Cavs will close the season’s unofficial first half at home Wednesday against New Jersey. … Battie, on the injured list with a bruised left knee, hopes to practice Tuesday and should be ready to play after the All-Star break. …… James’ fourth-quarter shooting woes continue. He went 1-for-5 in the period and is now 9-of-53 in his lastnine games in the fourth.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Boston
P. Pierce P. Pierce
12-30,  32 Pts
7 Rebs, 6 Assists
 Cleveland
Z. Ilgauskas Z. Ilgauskas
6-15,  19 Pts
16 Rebs, 0 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists