Overachieving Celtics romp to easy 103-86 win over Cavaliers

Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

BOSTON - As Celtics fans enter the holiday season with thoughts of a high lottery pick dancing in their heads, their team isn't fully cooperating.
Friday night's easy 103-86 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers was Boston's third win in the last four games.
The Celtics are 7-11, which puts them in eighth place in the Eastern Conference - and a half-game behind the 6-9 Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic Division lead.
And next up for rookie coach Brad Stevens' team is a home-and-home series with the 2-13 Milwaukee Bucks (Saturday in Milwaukee, Tuesday in Boston).
The Bucks won in Boston Nov. 1 but have dropped 11 in a row since then.
It's early, but this is getting dangerous.
"The team's still here and we're still fighting, and every day trying to get better," big man Jared Sullinger said after his four 3-pointers contributed to the wire-to-wire win. "I know I'm going to sound like a broken record but that's literally our goal around here."
Forward Jeff Green scored a season-high 31 points -- also a season high for his team -- and guard Avery Bradley (9-for-12 from the floor) added 21 points to lead the Celtics, who shot 11-for-23 from 3-point range.
More? Guard Jordan Crawford delivered his third career triple-double -- 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists -- and forwards Brandon Bass and Sullinger added 12 points apiece.
Bass posted eight rebounds and four assists, while Sullinger -- normally known as an inside player -- went 4-for-5 from 3-point range. That made him 6-for-8 from long range over the last two games.
"I overheard Brad talking about I don't take enough of them," Sullinger said. "He kind of emphasized the point if I was open, shoot it."
Green has 57 points in the last two games.
"It was nice to put everything together," said Green, now averaging 16.6 points per game. "We have had our ups and downs throughout the season.
"We have had quarters where we play well and quarters that we didn't, but it was good to put an all-around good game together."
Asked about Crawford's triple-double, Stevens said with a straight face, "He got a triple-double? Crawford did? Holy Smokes ... I literally had no idea ... Crawford got 11 rebounds - Jordan Crawford?"
Just before Crawford reached double figures in points, Stevens told the other players to clear out and let him try to score. He then took his player out after two free throws completed the night for Crawford, who said he may have asked Stevens to leave him in the game.
Guards Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers, who have lost five in a row to fall to 4-12, with 21 and 17 points, respectively. Center Anderson Varejo came off the bench with 10 points and 12 rebounds, 12 of his boards coming in the first half.
The Cavs went down 18-2, trailed 28-10 at the end of the first quarter, 55-29 after two. The Boston lead got as high as 25 in the third quarter.
"We gotta be men, we gotta grow up, we can't come out like that," said Waiters, who came off the bench and also had six assists four rebounds and six of his team's 19 turnovers.
Said coach Mike Brown: "To me, it's a work in progress. T's gonna be that way the entire year."
Center Vitor Faverani had six points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots and forward Kris Humphries nine points and four boards off the Boston bench.
NOTES: The Celtics close out an 18-game month of November with Saturday night's game at Milwaukee that also wraps up the sixth of back-to-back dates of the month. December brings just 12 games, which allows more practice time for the young team. ... The Cavaliers host the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. ... F Kelly Olynyk (right ankle sprain) and G Courtney Lee (sore knee) were out for the Celtics, with Olynyk wearing a protective boot. ... With F C.J. Miles still out with a calf injury, rookie G/F Sergei Karasev made his first NBA start for the Cavaliers, but played just over 15 minutes. ... Cleveland coach Mike Brown's son, Elijah, signed with Butler just before then-Butler coach Brad Stevens left for the Boston job. "Brad is such a class guy, and when he did leave, I don't know if you can handle it any better," Mike Brown said. Elijah Brown is averaging 8.3 points per game at Butler, scoring 15 in Friday's loss to No. 5 Oklahoma State.

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