Green’s layup at buzzer lifts Celtics over Cavs
CLEVELAND (AP) — Jeff Green scored 21 points and hit the winning layup at the buzzer, and the Boston Celtics snapped a five-game losing streak with a 93-92 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Brandon Bass scored a season-high 22 points to lead the Celtics, who rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to avoid matching their longest skid of the season. Boston had dropped seven of nine to fall into seventh place in the Eastern Conference — 2 games ahead of eighth-place Milwaukee.
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With 9.2 seconds remaining, Paul Pierce drove into the frontcourt and had the ball knocked out of bounds by Cleveland’s Alonzo Gee with 2.1 seconds left. After a video review confirmed the Celtics had possession, Green took an inbound pass from Avery Bradley at the top of the key, drove into the lane and scored over two defenders as time expired.
Wayne Ellington scored 16 points to lead Cleveland, which has lost six in a row — matching a season high — and 10 of 12.
Pierce, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds, 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 remaining.
The next play, which began in the backcourt, seemed to set Pierce up for the final shot before Gee knocked the ball loose in front of Cleveland’s bench. The Celtics quickly regrouped and Bradley found Green for the winner.
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 forward Kevin 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.
The Cavs trailed by 12 in the second quarter but cut the deficit to 46-45 at halftime. They opened the third quarter on an 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.
Pierce also had eight assists but nearly negated all of them with seven turnovers. Jordan Crawford added 12 points for Boston.
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. … 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.