Cavs defeat aging Celtics
CLEVELAND — Leon Powe has seen the Boston Celtics at their best. They aren't there anymore.
After coming off the bench and helping the Cleveland Cavaliers put away the Celtics, 104-93, yesterday, Powe, who won an NBA title with Boston in 2008, took a moment to reflect on his former team, a squad showing signs of age and perhaps vulnerability.
"Looking at the defense from the championship year, when we won it, it doesn't look the same," Powe said. "It looks like the rotation is slower and they ain't getting to the shooters and closing out like they did before. I don't know if it's effort or maybe they're a little older.
"But they've been old."
The Celtics looked it.
LeBron James scored 24 of his 30 points in the second half and the Cavs wore down the Celtics for their second decisive win over one of the East's premier teams in less than a month.
The Cavaliers were closer to full strength with the return of forward Antawn Jamison, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds after missing one game with a sore knee. Anderson Varejao added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and drove the Celtics crazy with his nonstop hustle.
"I thought one guy completely dominated the game and that was Varejao," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Loose balls, activity, getting under our skin, he's doing what he should do. That was very frustrating. He was so active. He moved his feet and we didn't."
Last month, the Cavs beat the Celtics by 20 in Boston. In that game, Cleveland center Shaquille O'Neal sustained a serious thumb injury and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
The Cavs don't appear to be missing him right now.
Ray Allen scored 20, while Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who was in foul trouble for most of the game, had 18 apiece for the Celtics.
James added eight rebounds, seven assists and three blocks in another MVP-type performance.
Bobcats 96, Magic 89: Stephen Jackson scored 28 points, Raymond Felton had 16 and Charlotte held off host Orlando for its sixth straight victory.
Dwight Howard had 27 points and 16 rebounds, and Vince Carter added 23 points for the Magic, who saw their eight-game winning streak snapped.
Bucks 98, Pacers 94: Jerry Stackhouse tied his season high with 20 points, Andrew Bogut added 17 points and 12 rebounds, and host Milwaukee won its sixth straight game.
Danny Granger led Indiana with 29 points.
Heat 104, 76ers 91: Dwyane Wade scored 38 points as host Miami won its third straight game.
Reserve Jason Kapono scored 17 for Philadelphia, which lost its fourth in a row.
Thunder 119, Jazz 111: Kevin Durant scored 35 points, Russell Westbrook added 30 points and 11 assists, and host Oklahoma City never trailed.
Wesley Matthews scored a career-high 29 points, and Deron Williams added 27 points and 14 assists for Utah, which lost back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 4.
Suns 120, Hornets 106: Steve Nash had 13 points and 12 assists in his 1,000th NBA game, and Amare Stoudemire added 36 points and 12 rebounds to propel host Phoenix.
Marcus Thornton scored 28 points for injury-depleted New Orleans, which dressed eight players for the second game in a row.
Trail Blazers 109, Raptors 98: LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Nicolas Batum added 22 points as host Portland won its fourth in a row.
Chris Bosh scored 28 points for Toronto, which lost its fifth straight.
Kings 114, Timberwolves 100: Tyreke Evans had 29 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds as host Sacramento handed Minnesota its ninth straight loss.
Al Jefferson had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves.