BOSTON - Kyrie Irving made the game-winning layup with 2.6 ticks left as the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the Boston Celtics with an 88-87 win, snapping the C's four-game winning streak on Sunday night at TD Garden in Boston, MA.
"He did a great job," Cavs head coach Byron Scott said about Irving. "Put the ball in his hands the last play of the game, told him we wanted him to go at about seven seconds. I didn't want to go quick, I wanted to go for the win and he was able to get to the basket."
Irving finished with a game-high 23 points, six assists and four rebounds for Cleveland (8-11), which shot 43 percent. Anderson Varejao had 18 points and nine rebounds and Alonzo Gee added 14 points off the bench for the Cavaliers.
"Oh yeah. Yeah pretty sure," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said about the expecting the ball to go to Irving on the final play. "And the reason that Kyrie's so food is the play was for him to make a play. Whether that be by shooting the ball or making a pass. And he pretty much makes good decisions. I thought he dominated the fourth quarter. He single-handedly in my opinion willed that win for them."
Ray Allen and Paul Pierce put the Boston Celtics (9-10) on their backs, scoring 22 and 18 respectively. Kevin Garnett added 14 points and seven rebounds and Brandon Bass, starting in place of Jermaine O'Neal, had 13 points.
Despite Pierce's offensive production, he turned the ball over a game-high seven times.
"I thought he did too much with the ball; it's just that simple," Rivers said about Pierce. "He's been playing great for us. And I thought he just predetermined some passes instead of just making the simple play."
The first half featured 12 ties, but it was the Cavs who took a one-point advantage at the intermission 44-43. Both teams made 19-of-38 field goals to shoot 50 percent. The Celtics had 12 first-half rebounds while Cleveland totaled seven.
After pulling away in the third quarter, the Celtics succumbed to a late push by Cleveland in which the Cavs cut the lead down to one point, 87-86, with just over one minute remaining. Allen had a chance to push the lead to four, but missed the corner three. Garnett got the rebound but traveled under the basket.
Irving missed a layup on the Cavs' next possession, but Cleveland maintained possession and found an open Jamison at the top of the arc, but he missed the three. Ever determined, Varejao fought for the loose ball and the Cavs called timeout. Irving took the ball and took the clock down to 2.6 seconds before making the go-ahead layup. Pierce had a chance to win the game, but took too long on the shot and missed.
"It feels good," Irving said about his game-winning bucket. "Especially, like I said, having the confidence of my teammates. And they gave me the ball at the end of the game and they trusted me to make that shot."
Boston is off until Tuesday, when it travels to Cleveland for a rematch with the Cavs.