Cavaliers suffer a meltdown

Boston wins when Cleveland blows a 19-point lead

Posted: Sunday, December 22, 2002

CLEVELAND - Paul Pierce put some fight into the Boston Celtics, and Antoine Walker finished off the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Walker scored 23 points to help the Celtics overcome the ejection of Pierce and a 19-point deficit in an 89-82 victory Saturday night.

"When Paul went out, coach called a lot of plays for me," Walker said. "We came alive and played defense the way we're supposed to."

Cleveland shot just 1-for-17 in the fourth quarter, and Walker scored six consecutive points to turn an 80-79 deficit into an 85-82 lead with 40 seconds to play.

Pierce and Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas were ejected for fighting with 11:15 remaining.

"What it did was give us a little bit of fire," said Pierce, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds. "I just felt the foul was excessive. I let my emotions take over."

Ilgauskas blocked a shot by Pierce, who was hit in the face by both the ball and Ilgauskas' hand. Pierce, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds, whirled around and pushed Ilgauskas, who then lunged at the Celtics' forward.

The Carlos Boozer Archive

"I tried to make a play, he got upset, pushed me and it escalated from there," said Ilgauskas, who had 15 points and eight rebounds.

Pierce was examined by Cavaliers doctors, who said he had a scratched right cornea but is not expected to miss any playing time.

Rookie Dajuan Wagner scored 25 points and Ricky Davis had 21 to lead the Cavs, who did not make a field goal over a 10:07 span of the third and fourth quarters.

"For a coach, this is the worst way to lose," Cavaliers coach John Lucas said. "I'd rather lose by 30."

The Celtics finally tied the score at 75 with 6:48 to play on a shot by Tony Battie and went ahead 27 seconds later when Battie made one of two free throws.

Carlos Boozer, who had made Cleveland's last field goal on a tip-in with 3:03 left in the third quarter, again put in a missed shot for a 77-76 lead with 4:56 to play to end the scoreless streak.

Boozer, a 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate, scored 12 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds for the eighth double-double of his rookie season.

"We play through 'Z' and without him it was tough," Wagner said. "And Boston got up for the challenge and played tough defense."

Cleveland committed 13 of its 16 turnovers in the second half to lose for the fifth time in six games.

Davis, who had scored 40 or more points in three of his previous seven games, shot 0-for-2 in the fourth quarter.

"I think it all started with Tony Delk pressuring Davis," Walker said. "We just fed off that."

The Cavaliers defended the 3-point shot much better. Cleveland entered the game with the worst defense in the league against 3-pointers, allowing foes to connect on 40 percent. Boston came in leading the league in 3-point efficiency, hitting an average of 9.5.

Walker went 0-for-10 on 3s, and Boston shot just 4-for-23 from beyond the arc. Tony Delk, second in the league in 3-point percentage, went 0-for-6.

The Cavs missed 13 of their first 15 shots as Boston opened an 18-7 lead.

Cleveland shot 14-of-22 from the field in the second quarter, however, and led 53-42 at halftime.

The Cavs continued shooting well early in the third quarter. Wagner hit consecutive 3-pointers to spark a 12-4 run that gave Cleveland its a 19-point lead, 65-44.

"They are like a track meet," Walker said of the Cavs. "When they get it at the defensive end, they'll be a very tough team."

Hawks 79, 76ers 77

ATLANTA - Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 28 points as Atlanta overcame the absence of Glenn Robinson and a season-ending injury to Emanual Davis to defeat Philadelphia.

Atlanta ended its five-game losing streak and snapped Philadelphia's three-game winning streak.

Timberwolves 98, Houston 86

MINNEAPOLIS - Troy Hudson hit five 3-pointers in the first half and Kevin Garnett dominated the second half.

Garnett had 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. He scored 13 of Minnesota's 21 points in the third quarter, then combined with Gary Trent for 16 points in the fourth as the Wolves used a 16-7 run over the last 8:47 to close out the win.

Nets 100, Pistons 92

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Jason Kidd had 27 points, 12 assists and five steals to help the New Jersey Nets overcome the league's longest winning streak.

Richard Jefferson added 19 points as the Nets won their ninth straight at home and ended the Pistons' season-high six-game winning streak. New Jersey is 14-1 at home, losing only to Dallas, which has the NBA's best record.

Bucks 94, Knicks 90

MILWAUKEE - Sam Cassell scored 25 points, including two key jump shots in the closing seconds.

Cassell sank a jump shot from the top of the key with 58 seconds left and a 3-pointer 35 seconds later.

Spurs 92, Wizards 81

SAN ANTONIO - Tony Parker scored 21 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minutes.

The Spurs trailed by 10 at the half but made 22 of 36 shots after the break to snap Washington's three-game winning streak. San Antonio ended the game with a 17-6 run.

Bulls 110, Pacers 103

CHICAGO - Jalen Rose scored all but three of his 28 points in the fourth quarter.

After throwing away his sneakers following the Bulls' loss at Indiana on Friday, Rose started 0-for-8 for the second straight night. But he scored his team's final 16 points, and his 25 points in the fourth was a United Center record for points in a quarter.

Suns 110, Kings 101

PHOENIX - Shawn Marion and Stephon Marbury scored 28 points apiece, negating Chris Webber's first triple-double in nearly two years.

In the final 56 seconds, Marion had a basket and two free throws, a defensive rebound and a steal off an inbounds pass to snuff out Sacramento's attempt to rally.

Trail Blazers 81, SuperSonics 80

PORTLAND, Ore. - Derek Anderson scored 27 points and hit a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left to extend their Portland's winning streak to five.

Anderson made a driving layup with 8.3 seconds left to pull Portland to 79-78. Rasheed Wallace fouled Vitaly Potapenko with 6.9 seconds left, but Potapenko made just one of his free throws.

Clippers 92, Nuggets 89

LOS ANGELES - Rookie Marko Jaric scored 22 points and Michael Olowokandi added 18 sending the Nuggets to their eighth straight loss and 13th in 14 games.

Tremaine Fowlkes scored a season-high 16 points for the Clippers, who have beaten the Nuggets five straight times at home.

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