Olynyk scores 25 as Celtics roll past Cavs 111-99
CLEVELAND (AP) The Boston Celtics are trying to finish the season on a high note.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are ending with another puzzling tailspin.
Rookie Kelly Olynyk matched a career high with 25 points and the short-handed Celtics dominated the Cavaliers in a 111-99 win Saturday night.
Avery Bradley also scored 25 points for the Celtics, who built a 33-point lead early in the fourth quarter despite dressing only eight players. Olynyk had a career-high 12 rebounds, and Jeff Green and Brandon Bass each scored 19 points.
”Wins like this mean a lot because it shows that we’re going to continue to go out and play hard,” Bradley said. ”We feel like we still have something to play for.”
Cleveland coach Mike Brown had a much different perspective. Since being eliminated from playoff contention Wednesday, the Cavaliers have lost to Milwaukee, the worst team in the league, and Boston, which came into Saturday with a 13-game road losing streak.
Asked if his players are mailing it in as the season comes to a close, Brown said: ”When you watch us play, we don’t look like we’re playing to get better. We look like we’re playing, going through the motions. It’s not good. It’s not good at all.”
Boston won for the first time away from home since Feb. 10. The Celtics broke a nine-game losing streak Friday against playoff-bound Charlotte and have won consecutive games for the first time since early March. Boston plays Philadelphia and Washington to end the season.
The Celtics were without point guard Rajon Rondo (strained shin) and center Jared Sullinger (sprained ankle), as well as several reserves who are also injured.
”It was nice to have an extra opportunity to get in and start tonight, and I jumped on it,” Olynyk said. ”It’s every player’s dream to be able to play through stuff and stay in.”
Added Boston coach Brad Stevens: ”All eight guys were pretty locked in tonight. Our ball movement was great and Kelly was really good.”
Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters each scored 15 points for Cleveland, but neither played in the fourth quarter that began with Boston leading 89-58. Forward Luol Deng missed his second straight game for Cleveland with a sore back.
The final margin was misleading because Cleveland’s reserves scored 17 straight points in the final period.
Boston used a 10-0 run early in the game to take control. Olynyk hit a 3-pointer and a hook shot, while Bradley also had a 3-pointer to give the Celtics a 19-7 lead.
Cleveland was 6 for 24 from the field in the first quarter, but cut the lead to 31-25 early in the second. The Celtics quickly assumed command again and finished the half on a 15-4 run to lead 60-42.
Bradley and Green hit 3-pointers, while Bass added a basket in the first 1:16 of the third quarter that built the lead to 18. The margin steadily grew and reached 98-65 early in the fourth.
The Cavaliers played perhaps their best game of the season when they routed Detroit 122-100 on Wednesday, but were eliminated from the playoff picture when the Celtics failed to hold a late lead in Atlanta later that night. The carryover from missing the postseason has shown in the last two games. The Cavaliers allowed 37 points in the first quarter and faltered down the stretch against the Bucks.
”It’s too bad for us to play the way we have as of late and let opportunities to get better slip away,” said Brown, whose team ends the season Wednesday against New Jersey. ”We had opportunities to get better as a team and individuals, and we just don’t know how to do it.”
Irving was 3 of 15 from the field and has shot 7 of 27 the last two games. Waiters was 6 of 15 from the field and both starting guards. Irving and Waiters were among several Cleveland players who left before reporters were allowed in the locker room.
Rondo missed his second straight game after being kicked in the leg against Atlanta on Wednesday. Sullinger sprained his left ankle in the third quarter Friday, but returned and scored 20 points. The ankle became swollen overnight and the decision was made him to sit him out.
Guard Jerryd Bayless (hyperextended right knee) and Kris Humphries (sore right knee) were also out for Boston. Both were injured Friday.
NOTES: Boston’s last road win was over Milwaukee over two months ago. … Cavaliers F Alonzo Gee picked up two fouls in the first 1:54 and went to the bench for the rest of the half. … An MRI on Bayless’ knee revealed a bruise and he may rejoin the team Monday in Philadelphia. … Brown isn’t sure if Deng, who has been banged up most of the season, will play in the season finale.