New-look Cavs spoil Pierce's jersey party in Boston
THE Boston crowd came out to celebrate Paul Pierce on Sunday — but LeBron James and his new Cleveland supporting cast had other ideas as the Cavaliers routed the Celtics 121-99.
James shook off a first-quarter leg injury to finish with 24 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds for the Cavaliers who were one of the busiest teams at the NBA trading deadline.
Cleveland acquired four players and dealt away six others as they attempt to make a push for their 4th straight NBA finals.
“We got some players that are pretty smart and they picked it up like they had been here all year,” said James, who played just 28 minutes.
Despite the home team’s loss, the night belonged to Pierce and his family as they got to hear tribute videos from Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson and see his No. 34 raised to the rafters of the TD Garden arena.
“It definitely gave me chills, especially with LeBron out there,” Pierce said afterwards. “I wanted to be out there.”
Pierce, who retired last season, watched the game from his sideline seat, waiting for the postgame ceremony. But when the Cavs raced to a 27-point lead halfway through the last quarter the crowd started chanting: “We want Paul Pierce”.
James scored 13 of his 24 points in the second quarter. He chipped in 8 during a 13-2 burst that turned a 1-point deficit into a double-digit lead. The Celtics made it 64-55 on the first basket of the third quarter but never got close for the rest of the game.
James collided with Aron Baynes with about 5 minutes left in the first quarter and hobbled to the sidelines. After receiving treatment on his right leg he returned with 9 minutes left in the half and immediately picked up where he left off.
In their first appearances since being acquired at the trade deadline, Jordan Clarkson scored 17 points, Rodney Hood had 15, George Hill added 12 and Larry Nance scored 5 points.
The Celtics have lost three of four while the Cavaliers have won three straight.
Terry Rozier scored 21 points with 9 assists and Kyrie Irving scored 18 against his former teammates before sitting out the final quarter in the loss.
Elsewhere, it was: Raptors 123, Hornets 103; Thunder 110, Grizzlies 92; Jazz 115, Trail Blazers 96; Pacers 121, Knicks 113; Timberwolves 111, Kings 106; Rockets 104, Mavericks 97; and Hawks 118, Pistons 115.