Published January 23, 2013
| Sports Network
Cleveland, OH – Kyrie Irving started strong and put the Cavaliers on his back down the stretch to carry them to victory.
Irving scored 40 points and tallied 11 of the Cavaliers' final 13 to push Cleveland past the reeling Boston Celtics, 95-90, at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday.
He missed just two shots in scoring 19 first-quarter points and shot 16-of-24 for the night to help Cleveland rebound off its rough 1-4 road trip.
"It just came in the flow," Irving said of his performance. "I did have the mindset that I was going to come out aggressive, but more or less just see what happens. I made shots and guys kept feeding me."
Tristan Thompson followed with 21 points and nine rebounds in the victory.
With the defeat, the inconsistent Celtics have tied a season worst with their fourth consecutive loss following a six-game winning streak. Rajon Rondo scored a team-best 17 points along with 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Paul Pierce scored 12 points for Boston, but shot a miserable 3-for-15 from the field. Kevin Garnett tallied 16 points in the defeat, which sent the Celtics (20-21) back under the .500 mark.
During a contest which changed hands 17 times and featured 12 ties, Rondo's jumper gave the Celtics their last lead at 83-82 with 4:15 remaining, before committing consecutive turnovers which helped Irving take over.
After Shaun Livingston poked the ball away from Rondo, Irving became the beneficiary of a fastbreak layup, then scored an uncontested basket when Rondo tried saving an ill-advised back-tap from going out of bounds in Cleveland's own end.
"Obviously you don't throw the ball to Kyrie," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers on Rondo's decision. "But my question to my team is where was everyone else? Rondo ran from under the basket to under the basket, and when he saved the ball there was no one to save it. Mentally, right now, we're just not there for 48 minutes."
Garnett was able to keep the Celtics within one at 88-87 after hitting a pair of free throws later on, but he missed a jumper on Boston's next touch, leading to another breakaway score by Irving that increased the Cavs' lead to three with 52 seconds left.
Irving then put the dagger in the Celtics' heart when he drove to the basket and drew a foul on a made layup. He finished the 3-point play to give Cleveland a 93-87 advantage with just 22.8 seconds remaining.
Pierce, who shot 1-for-8 in the fourth quarter, missed the Celtics' sixth straight bucket down the stretch when he fired an air-ball on a contested 3- pointer, all but clinching victory for the Cavaliers.
Coming in, Boston had won three straight games against the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena ... The Celtics' Jared Sullinger finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out ... Cleveland improved to 5-12 at home this season ... Earlier on Tuesday, the Cavaliers acquired forward Marreese Speights and guards Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby along with a future first- round pick from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for forward Jon Leuer. None of Cleveland's acquisitions were available for the game.