Boston’s Avery Bradley drilled a three-pointer as time expired as the Celtics rallied to stun NBA Eastern Conference leaders Cleveland 104-103 on their home floor on Friday.
The Celtics snatched the victory after trailing by five points in the final 20 seconds.
The Cavaliers, led by superstar LeBron James, had trailed by seven with four minutes to play. But they appeared to have gained control for good when guard J.R. Smith grabbed an offensive rebound off James’s missed three-pointer with 22 seconds remaining and Cleveland up 99-96.
Cavs guard Kyrie Irving’s free throws gave Cleveland a 103-99 lead with 7.5 seconds left, but Smith fouled Evan Turner as the Celtics swingman drove for a layup with four seconds left.
Turner missed the free throw, but it was 103-101 when the ball went out of bounds off the Cavaliers, leaving the Celtics with possession and one final shot to win it.
Bradley connected from the corner over Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert, silencing the sellout crowd and handing the Cavaliers just their fourth home defeat of the season.
“I knew it was there,” Bradley said. “It’s a great feeling.”
James scored 30 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough on a night the Cavaliers lost forward Kevin Love to a bruised left thigh.
All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points and Turner had 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists off the bench for the Celtics, who squandered a 92-85 lead with 3:18 left before rallying.
It was a second straight defeat for the Cavaliers, two nights after they fell to the Hornets in Charlotte.
“It’s how we lost,” James said. “It hurts. It’s been a while since I felt like this.”
Irving was more philosophical in defeat.
“There were more than a few mental mistakes going down in those last final seconds until that buzzer went off,” Irving said. “It was just a few bad bounces that obviously can be corrected by us.”
– Spurs romp –
The San Antonio Spurs humiliated the Dallas Mavericks 116-90 on the Mavs’ home floor.
The Spurs claimed their 42nd win of the season in devastating style, racing to a 27-12 first-quarter lead and a 62-26 halftime advantage.
Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the first half while all five of Dallas’ starters combined for 16 points before the interval.
It wasn’t the worst home loss in Mavericks history — which still remains a 117-70 setback against Seattle in 1989.
But it was bad enough, and the frustration showed when Dallas center Zaza Pachulia was ejected early in the third quarter for arguing that he was fouled by Spurs guard Danny Green on a dunk.
Pachulia’s complaint came after a couple of earlier skirmishes and moments after Pachulia and Green clashed chasing a loose ball.
– Wall leads Wizards –
All-Star guard John Wall notched his first triple-double in almost two years, scoring 18 points with 13 rebounds and 10 assists to lift the Washington Wizards to a 106-94 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside delivered a more unusual triple-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks to help the Miami Heat to a 98-95 victory over Charlotte.
It was the fourth time in three seasons that Whiteside has posted a triple-double featuring at least 10 blocks — rather than the assists that usually fill out a triple-double.
“I’m different,” he said. “Simple as that.”
– Bulls’ Butler sprains knee –
The Chicago Bulls’ 115-110 loss to the Nuggets in Denver was all the more painful as All-Star forward Jimmy Butler departed the contest with a sprained left knee.
Butler was injured with 1:05 remaining in the second quarter when he was fouled by Nuggets center Joffrey Lauvergne on a drive to the basket.
He landed awkwardly and lay on the floor while he was attended by medical personnel.
Butler refused to be put on the wheeled stretcher that was brought out for him until he could shoot his free throws. – Agence France-Presse