BOSTON -- There was a real sense of relief in the visitors' locker room at TD Garden after Friday night's game.
"Ten in a row, that's out the window now," Kyrie Irving said after the Cleveland Cavaliers ended their 10-game losing streak with a 97-91 victory over the Boston Celtics. "That was the most I've lost in my career, so I'm glad that's over."
Second-year forward Tristan Thompson set career highs of 29 points and 17 rebounds. The young Cavaliers took advantage of the absence of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (resting ankle injuries). They trailed by eight in the first half, but blew out to a 14-point lead with 9:21 left and then held off a Boston charge.
While the Celtics also don't have Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, Cleveland (23-52) isn't exactly the healthiest bunch, either. The lost long ago the league rebound leader Anderson Varejo for the season. Also out for the Cavaliers was rookie Dion Waiters (14.7 points).
And Irving just returned from an eight-game absence (all losses) with a shoulder injury and this was only his second game back.
Irving shot just 4-for-20 from the floor for 11 points but he had eight assists, five rebounds and two blocked shots.
He didn't care about his own stats.
"We pulled together," he said. "We wanted this one. We wanted this win really bad."
Thompson was a monster. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds in the first half and was then quiet before taking over down the stretch.
"During this losing streak we had a lot of games where we should have, but at the end of the day we took the 'L'," Thompson said. "Tonight was our game to win, so we knew we had to take and bring it back to Cleveland."
It was just back on March 27 that the Celtics nipped the Cavs on a Jeff Green basket at the buzzer. And it was only the other night that Thompson had eight points and six rebounds in 27 minutes against the Nets, who got 18 boards from rebound specialist Reggie Evans in beating Cleveland. Evans' effort wasn't lost on Thompson.
"It was motivation," Thompson said after playing more than 41 minutes, also a career high. "Reggie Evans is a defensive monster. He's a rebounding monster, too, so I wanted to come out with that same mentality -- just rebound and just play as hard as I can and that's what I did."
Said Boston coach Doc Rivers: "He killed us; 29 and 17. And you think you're going to win the game when Kyrie goes 4-for-20."
The Cavs (23-52) got 16 points and nine rebounds from Alonzo Gee and 12 points and six boards from Wayne Ellington.
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. Brandon Bass had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Boston's Avery Bradley (10 points, three assists) didn't finish the game because of a bruised left collarbone after catching an elbow from Irving.
"I think he's fine," Rivers said.
The Celtics led by eight 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-pointers 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 C.J. 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. 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 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. "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 Sunday. ... Boston guard Terrence Williams, who dislocated his right pinky finer Wednesday night, played. "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.