Paul Pierce had a season-high 40 points as the Boston Celtics (13-12) snapped their three-game losing streak, running through the Cleveland Cavaliers (5-22), 103-91, Wednesday night from TD Garden in Boston, MA.
For the first portion of the third quarter, it looked like the Celtics would be in control of the game for good. After leading Cleveland 54-46 at half, Boston jumped out to a 20-point lead late in the frame, as Paul Pierce went off, scoring 17 in the quarter and using a 12-2 individual run to build the lead.
But Kyrie Irving wouldn't let the Cavs fall too far out of contention, scoring 10 points over the last three minutes of the quarter to cut Boston's lead to just 10.
Cleveland continued their strong close to the quarter into the fourth, as they ended a 17-0 run to trail the Celtics by two early in the frame. Boston's offense became complacent with running clock instead of looking for open lanes and jumpers, while their defense struggled to stop the extra pass and step out at the open Cavaliers.
In Irving's extended absence throughout the first half of the fourth quarter, rookie Tyler Zeller showed off his offensive game, scoring seven points over the first six minutes and a career-high 20 points on the night as Cleveland continued to trade baskets with the Celtics in an attempt to finally take the lead.
That never happened, though, as Pierce checked back into the game and Boston pushed their lead back up, using a 12-4 run late in the game to give the Celtics a lead Cleveland would never get close to overcoming.
Rajon Rondo finished the night with 20 points, eight assists and four rebounds to lead the Celtics, while Irving had 22 points and four assists for Cleveland.
Both teams struggled from the free throw line, with Cleveland connecting on 66 percent of their attempts and Boston hitting 74 percent of their shots.
The Celtics will look to continue their winning ways Friday, when Monta Ellis and the Milwaukee Bucks travel to TD Garden for a 7:30 pm ET tip-off.
For more Boston Celtics coverage, check out our team blog, Celtics Blog.