CLEVELAND: The Celtics wouldn’t go away, and then LeBron James showed them the door.NBA Playoffs Logo

James scored 30 points – 15 in the fourth quarter – and Kyrie Irving added 26 as the Cleveland Cavaliers finally shook off Boston in the fourth quarter for 99-91 victory Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their opening-round series.

James moved past Hall of Famer Jerry West on the career playoff scoring list and made sure the Cavs didn’t slip up at home. He took over the game down the stretch and he and Irving, playing in just his second postseason game, combined for all of Cleveland’s 24 points in the final period and the Cavs’ final 28 over the last 17:29.

Timofey Mozgov added 16 points, Kevin Love had 13 and Tristan Thompson had 11 rebounds for Cleveland, which has had a tougher time than expected with a young Boston team.
Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points for the Celtics, who scrapped and clawed until the final minutes. Boston’s bench outscored Cleveland’s 51-7, but the Celtics couldn’t stop James and Irving when it mattered most.

The Cavaliers started the second half strong and used a 17-4 run to open a 14-point lead. The spurt included a stunning reverse dunk by Love and was capped with Irving tossing a lob pass to James, who dunked and then swung on the rim like a little kid on a school playground. The Cavs, though, couldn’t shake the Celtics, who pulled within 79-77 on a three-point play by Thomas.

However, James, as he has so often done in his brilliant career, made big, clutch shots, none bigger than his driving layup with 1:13 left, giving the Cavs a 97-89 lead. Thompson grabbed three crucial offensive rebounds in the final 3 minutes to keep possessions alive for Cleveland.

Game 3 is Thursday night in Boston, where James had his first stint with Cleveland end with a playoff loss in 2010. James knows the Cavs have to play better – he had six of the team’s 18 turnovers – or the Celtics will climb their way back into the series. The Cavs are leading the best of 7 series 2-0

Wizards rout Raptors, Howard and Harden lead Rockets over Mavericks

TORONTO: The Washington Wizards are winning big at both talking and playing.
John Wall had 26 points and 17 assists, Bradley Beal scored 28 points and the Wizards beat the Toronto Raptors 117-106 on Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Marcin Gortat scored 16 points, Otto Porter had 15 and Paul Pierce added 10 for the Wizards, who host Game 3 on Friday night.

In a series that started with talk about Pierce’s criticism of Toronto’s talent, Beal fired another verbal salvo in a television interview at the end of the second quarter.

Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 10 rebounds while Sixth Man Award winner Lou Williams and DeMar DeRozan each scored 20 points for the Raptors, who have lost four straight playoff games over the past two seasons

All-Star guard Kyle Lowry, who fouled out of Game 1 with seven points after missing eight of 10 shots, struggled again. Lowry limped to the locker room midway through the fourth quarter with a bruised left shin and did not return. He finished with six points on 3-of-10 shooting. The Raptors said Lowry will be re-evaluated Wednesday.

The Raptors opened the third quarter with a 12-3 spurt, cutting the deficit to 63-61, but Washington responded with 10 straight points to restore its double-digit lead. Wall scored 10 points in the third as the Wizards took a 97-75 lead into the fourth, leading to boos from the Air Canada Centre crowd. The Wizards lead the series 2-0.

HOUSTON: Friends since preschool, but teammates for the first time since they were teenagers, Dwight Howard and Josh Smith have been itching for this opportunity.

On Tuesday night the Rockets teammates proved an unstoppable combination in a key run that helped Houston to a 111-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference playoff series.

The Mavericks scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take a three-point lead. But with James Harden on the bench, Houston scored the next 11 points, powered by three alley-oop passes from Smith to Howard, who had 28 points, to take a 92-84 lead with about 8 minutes left.

Cast aside by Detroit, Smith is ecstatic to have found success in Houston. Smith, who connected with Howard on six alley-oop passes, finished with 15 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Howard, who missed more than two months late this season with swelling in his right knee, played just 17 minutes in Game 1 because of foul trouble. On Tuesday night he played more than 33 minutes, showing that he’s back to form after an injury-plagued regular season. He had 12 rebounds and two blocks.

The Mavericks had scored five straight points late in the third when Smith saved the ball from going out of bounds by tipping it to Brewer. Smith crashed into the seats on the baseline as Brewer swished the corner 3. But Ellis made a long 3 just before the buzzer to cut Houston’s lead to 81-80 entering the fourth.

The teams stayed close for most of second quarter and Harden scored his first points since midway through the first quarter with two free throws to tie it at 42-all about 3 1/2 minutes before halftime. Houston led 53-51 at halftime. The Rockets are now up 2-0.

Results

Cleveland Cavaliers 99 beat Boston Celtics 91, Washington Wizards 117 beat Toronto Raptors 106, Houston Rockets 111 beat Dallas Mavericks 99

Vishnu Ravi Shankar
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