Celtics 93, Cavaliers 92

The reeling and battered Boston Celtics were seconds away from

matching their longest losing streak of the season.

Then Jeff Green saved the day.

Green hit the winning layup at the buzzer and scored 21 points,

and the Celtics snapped a five-game losing streak with a 93-92 win

over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

It was obvious Boston, which had lost seven of nine coming in

and was again without star forward Kevin Garnett, needed something

positive to happen. An uncharacteristic late-season slide had

dropped the Celtics to seventh place in the Eastern Conference and

it looked as if the skid would continue when Cleveland built an

86-72 lead with just over eight minutes to play.

”It was a huge win,” said forward Paul Pierce, who had 19

points and 10 rebounds. ”We didn’t play well from the second

quarter on, but we found a way. It seemed like we were mentally

fatigued and physically fatigued, but we put it all together at the

end.”

Wayne Ellington scored 16 points to lead Cleveland, which has

lost six in a row – matching a season high – and 10 of 12.

Pierce hit a jumper with 32 seconds remaining to make it 92-91.

Following a miss by Shaun Livingston, the Celtics regained

possession and called timeout with 9.2 seconds left. The next play,

which began in the backcourt, seemed to set Pierce up for the final

shot before Alonzo Gee knocked the ball loose in front of

Cleveland’s bench with 2.1 seconds remaining.

The Celtics regrouped while a video review confirmed they had

possession of the ball. Green took an inbound pass from Avery

Bradley near the three-point line, drove into the lane and scored

over two defenders as time expired.

”Jeff wanted the ball,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. ”He

asked for it by the way he was looking at me in the huddle. He

clearly wanted the basketball. I sensed that and everybody sensed

that.”

”(Jason Terry) set a good screen on my man, and Avery made a

good pass,” Green said. ”I just tried to be aggressive and get to

the rim. I’m a player.”

The Cavaliers were coming off their worst defeat of the season,

a 38-point loss at Houston on Friday. Cleveland seemingly had

control of the game in the fourth quarter, but lost a battle of

teams that have been decimated by injuries.

Boston played without Garnett, who missed his third straight

consecutive because of inflammation in his left ankle. Guard

Courtney Lee has also missed the last three games of a sprained

left ankle.

Cleveland played without All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who missed

his seventh straight game with a bruised left shoulder. Dion

Waiters, the Cavaliers’ starting shooting guard, was out for the

third game in a row with a sore left knee.

It was another frustrating loss for Cleveland coach Byron Scott,

whose team was outscored 21-6 with the game on the line.

”We were looking at the clock, playing not to lose the game

instead of to win the game,” Scott said. ”You have to look to

win. You can’t hope the clock runs out and that’s what we kind of

did.”

Brandon Bass scored a season-high 22 points for the Celtics, who

lead eighth-place Milwaukee by 2 1/2 games. Pierce also had eight

assists but nearly negated all of them with seven turnovers. Jordan

Crawford added 12 points for Boston.

The Cavs trailed by 12 in the second quarter but cut the deficit

to 46-45 at halftime. They opened the third quarter on a 17-4 run

to take a 62-50 lead before Boston trimmed it to 73-69 early in the

fourth. A trio of 3-pointers by Daniel Gibson, C.J. Miles and Luke

Walton, along with two baskets by Marreese Speights, stretched the

lead to 86-72.

Miles and Speights scored 13 points each for Cleveland.

The first quarter ended in an unusual manner. A basket by the

Celtics was waved off because of traveling, forcing the officials

to put five-tenths of a second back on the clock after a video

review. Speights hit a shot after a length of the court pass from

Walton, but the basket was waved off after another video

review.

Boston point guard Rajon Rondo (knee surgery) and forward Jared

Sullinger (back surgery), along with Cleveland center Anderson

Varejao are out for the season. Varejao developed a blood clot in

his lung after having surgery to repair a split leg muscle.

NOTES: Rivers thinks Lee will return for Friday’s game against

Atlanta. … Rivers moved Green from center to power forward, while

Bass started at small forward. C Chris Wilcox made his first start

of the season. … Irving was on the court and in uniform about 90

minutes before the game to shoot a commercial for the NBA. He’s

been out since March 10, but could return in April. Irving scored

40 points in a 95-90 win in Cleveland on Jan. 22. … Waiters’

status will be re-evaluated this week. … Walton was given a

technical for arguing a traveling call in the second quarter.