BOSTON - The Cleveland Cavaliers, taking advantage of the absence of both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, got a career-high 29 points and 17 rebounds from Tristan Thompson and ended a 10-game losing streak by beating the Boston Celtics 97-91 Friday night at TD Bank Garden.
Thompson had 21 and 11 rebounds in the first half and was the quiet until the fourth quarter when helped repel a Boston charge from a 14-point deficit.
With both Garnett and Pierce resting sore ankles (and, of course, Rajon Rondo out for the year), the banged-up Cavs (23-52) got 16 points and nine rebounds from Alonzo Gee and 12 points from Wayne Ellington. Kyrie Irving, in his second game back from a shoulder injury, had 11 points, eight assists and five rebounds while going just 4-for-20 from the floor.
Jeff Green led the Celtics (39-37) with 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Shavlik Randolph, coming off the bench, delivered 16 points and seven rebounds but fouled out while playing just 13 minutes.
Boston's Avery Bradley didn't finish the game because of a bruised left collarbone.
The Celtics led by eight points in the first half but the Cavaliers caught up and the game was tied at the half. Green hit five straight points to start the second half and Boston led by seven, 62-55, but the Cavs went on a 9-0 run that included back-to-back 3-pointer by Irving, who had been quiet to that point in the game.
Cleveland led by three but then went on a 14-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to go up by 14.
Included in that spurt was a Flagrant-1 foul called on Boston's Jason Terry, who slammed into CJ Miles in the backcourt the way a Boston Bruin might throw a hockey check. Miles made the free throws and then capped an 8-0 run with a steal and slam.
That gave the Cavaliers their 14-point lead with 9:21 left and the Celtics then started charging back, a 15-5 explosion started and ended by Terry 3-pointers.
Their lead down to four with 5:47 left, Cleveland regained to control on a monster second put-back by Thompson and a basket by Ellington.
NOTES: Garnett missed his eighth straight game with an ankle injury but coach Doc Rivers said his big man will "most likely" play Sunday against Washington. The same should be true with Pierce, who missed his second game in the last three. Pierce's first absence was for the birth of his son, Prince Paul Pierce, and he then played Wednesday but tweaked an ankle. "I think (Pierce will) be fine by Sunday. It's just sore, so we're just not playing him," Rivers said. The losing streak has people talking change in Cleveland but Byron Scott isn't worrying about -- not publicly, anyway. Remember, injuries have hammered this team, too, with NBA rebounding leader Anderson Varajao (14.4 per game) long gone for the season and Irving just returning from an eight-game absence, with the team losing all eight. "I don't necessarily think I need to defend myself to the public or especially in the papers," Scott said before the team left Cleveland for Boston. "I know what I'm doing here. I know what type of job I'm doing. I know what I'm given, I know what we're working with. I know the situation that we're under. So I don't really feel that I need to defend myself. Simple as that." ... The Cavs host Orlando on Sunday. ... Boston guard Terrence Williams played despited dislocateding his right pinky finger Wednesday night. "I'm going to try to play with (my right hand) behind my back. Try to play like Bob Cousy," he said before the game.