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By The Sports Xchange January 22, 2013 9:50 PM
The loss was the Celtics' fourth in a row. Irving, gunning for a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team, was 16 of 24 from the field, 1 of 3 from behind the arc and 7 of 7 from the foul line. It was the second 40-point game of his career. The other came Dec. 15 against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Irving had 15 points in the fourth quarter. Power forward Tristan Thompson added a season-high 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Cavs (11-32). For Boston (20-21), point guard Rajon Rondo flirted with a triple-double with 17 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and eight assists. Center Kevin Garnett added 16 points and five rebounds. The Cavs were playing with just one legitimate big man in the last 1:33. Rookie center Tyler Zeller picked up his sixth foul at that point. He was replaced by 6-8 Luke Walton. It didn't matter. Irving looked like he was shot out of a cannon on a fast-break layup with 52 seconds to play that handed the Cavs a 90-87 lead. The Cavs got a key stop on Boston's next possession when 6-7 Shaun Livingston got a hand on a layup attempt by Rondo. Walton grabbed the key rebound in traffic with 38.6 seconds remaining. That led to Irving's shot off the glass with 22.8 seconds left. Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger, making his first appearance at The Q, fouled out. The former Ohio State standout finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Irving completed the three-point play for a 93-87 lead. The Celtics bullied the Cavs on the boards, 48-39. Guard Courtney Lee's 3-pointer with 0.2 of a second left handed the Celtics a 73-70 advantage after three quarters. Two of the top point guards in the league were squaring off at The Q. Rondo had 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Celtics after three quarters. He is a starting guard on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Irving led all scorers with 25 points after three quarters. Thompson wore down the Boston big men. He had a season-high 21 points and seven rebounds through three quarters. Zeller struggled mightily against Garnett. He was 2 of 10 from the field and ended with six points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Garnett had 12 points and a game-high four blocks in the first three quarters. Irving was dominant in the first half with 23 points and three assists as the Cavs had a 54-53 edge at halftime. He's averaging 23.1 points for the season. Irving made 9 of 11 shots from the field in the first half. Thompson had 16 points and four rebounds. For the Celtics, Rondo had 13 points, three rebounds and five assists. Both teams shot well in the first half. The Cavs hit 50 percent from the field and the Celtics 48.8 percent. The Cavs shot a scorching 59.1 percent from the floor en route to a 31-27 lead after the first quarter. They converted 13 of 22 from the field. Irving scored 19 points in the first quarter when he made 8 of 10 from the field. Rondo had 10 points for Boston. NOTES: The Cavaliers showed how valuable salary-cap space can be. They sent power forward Jon Leuer to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday in exchange for forward/center Marreese Speights, shooting guard Wayne Ellington, point guard Josh Selby and a future first-round pick. They also waived point guard Jeremy Pargo. The Cavs were able to make the deal because they had almost $10 million in cap space. The move will save the Grizzlies almost $6 million, keep them out of the luxury-tax threshold and allow them to hang onto high-scoring small forward Rudy Gay. ... The new players will get their physicals Wednesday. The Cavs hope they'll practice Thursday. ... The Cavs now have a logjam at shooting guard with Ellington, Dion Waiters, C.J. Miles and Daniel Gibson. "Guys will be fighting for minutes," coach Byron Scott said. ... The Cavs recalled power forward Kevin Jones from the Canton Charge on Tuesday. ... Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledged that Irving has the numbers to make the All-Star team. "Whether he makes it or not is another story," Rivers said. ... Rivers threatened to make changes but stuck with his regular starting lineup. The Celtics came into Tuesday's game having lost three in a row. ... Boston forward/center Chris Wilcox (right thumb sprain) and guard Avery Bradley (rib soreness) continue to play through their injuries. "It hurts (for Bradley) to breathe, and it hurts every time you get hit anywhere near your ribs," Rivers said.