Irving’s 42 and Le­Bron’s 34 push Cava­liers past Celtics

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - TOM WITHERS CLEVE­LAND —

Kyrie Irving took over in the sec­ond half and fin­ished with 42 points, Le­Bron James added 34 and the Cleve­land Cava­liers moved within one win of an al­most in­evitable third date in the Fi­nals with Golden State by ral­ly­ing to beat the Bos­ton Celtics 112-99 on Tues­day night in Game 4 of the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal.

Irving stayed on the floor de­spite rolling his left an­kle in the third quar­ter, when he scored 19 in less than five min­utes, and James shook off early foul trou­ble as the Cavs opened a 3-1 lead in the series.

The de­fend­ing NBA cham­pi­ons can wrap up their third straight con­fer­ence ti­tle — and a “three-match” against the War­riors — with a win in Game 5 on Thurs­day night in Bos­ton.

But if Games 3 and 4 are any in­di­ca­tion, it won’t be easy.

Fight­ing to keep their sea­son alive, the Celtics aren’t giv­ing an inch de­spite play­ing with­out All-Star guard Isa­iah Thomas, who may need surgery on a hip in­jury.

The Cavs, mean­while, wouldn’t be on the cusp of the Fi­nals with­out Irving.

With Cleve­land in jeop­ardy of drop­ping its sec­ond game in a row af­ter James fol­lowed an 11-point Game 3 by pick­ing up four first-half fouls, Irving put on a breath­tak­ing one-man show in the third quar­ter.

Freez­ing Bos­ton de­fend­ers with his drib­ble and driv­ing to the bas­ket when­ever he wanted, Irving made six layups, two 3point­ers and a free throw in a dizzy­ing span of 4:48. He capped his blis­ter­ing 19-point out­burst with a 3 in the fi­nal sec­ond of the quar­ter and cel­e­brated at mid-court by pre­tend­ing to put two pis­tols back in his hol­ster.

When the horn sounded, Cleve­land’s play­ers poured off the bench to greet him. They had to be careful not to knock him off his feet af­ter Irving had put a scare through the fren­zied Quicken Loans Arena crowd mo­ments ear­lier when he stepped on the foot of Bos­ton’s Terry Rozier.

Irving stayed on the floor for sev­eral sec­onds be­fore sit­ting up and re­ty­ing his left sneaker. Noth­ing was keep­ing him out.

Kevin Love added 17 points and 17 re­bounds for the Cavs, now 11-1 in the play­offs.

Avery Bradley scored 19 and Jae Crow­der 18 for Bos­ton. Up next The Celtics lost Game 2 at home by 44 and the first two games of the series by a com­bined 57.

JA­SON MILLER, GETTY IMAGES

Kyrie Irving of the Cava­liers drives against Avery Bradley of the Bos­ton Celtics on Tues­day night in Cleve­land.

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