Allen, Garnett Lead Celtics Past Cavaliers 86-83

Boston, which couldn’t hold a 16-point lead in the first quarter, avoided its first six-game skid since dropping seven in a row from April 4-15, 2007.

Kyrie Irving returned from a bruised elbow that sidelined him late in the second quarter and led Cleveland with 24 points, 19 in the second half.

Irving hit two free throws with 1:21 remaining to give Cleveland an 81-80 lead. After Allen missed a 3-pointer, Garnett tipped Irving’s pass, leading to Allen’s dunk with 48.6 seconds left.

Irving drove down the lane and missed a layup with 27 seconds remaining. Garnett missed on Boston’s next possession, but grabbed his own rebound and was fouled by Antawn Jamison with 3.9 seconds to go. Garnett made both shots and the Cavaliers called a timeout, trailing 84-81.

Irving was fouled before he could get off a 3-point attempt and made both free throws with 3.5 seconds left. Allen hit two foul shots with 2.4 seconds remaining, and Anthony Parker’s 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the front rim.

A moment of silence was observed before the game for the victims of Monday’s shootings at Chardon High School, located approximately 30 miles from Cleveland. Three students were killed and two were wounded.

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was held scoreless for the first time since March 16 last season against Indiana, but had 11 assists.

The Celtics lead the Cavaliers by 2½ games for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Boston lost its final five games before the All-Star break, the last three by 15 or more points. It appeared the Celtics were headed to a blowout of their own as they dominated the first quarter, shooting 12 for 20 from the field. Their biggest lead was 28-12 on Garnett’s bank shot with 19 seconds left in the period.

Irving left the game with 3:41 remaining before halftime after taking a charge from Paul Pierce. Irving was taken to the locker room and returned to the bench with about two minutes to go, but didn’t play the rest of the half. Cleveland trailed 43-38 at halftime.

He returned to begin the second half and immediately made his presence felt. His 3-pointer broke a 53-all tie with 5:03 remaining in the quarter. Irving followed with a steal and a breakaway dunk to give Cleveland a five-point lead, its largest of the game.

Irving had six points in his last game before the All-Star break, tying his career low, and was 2 for 13 from the field. He scored 34 points and earned MVP honors in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday.

Irving scored a game-high 23 points and hit a layup in the closing seconds to give the Cavaliers an 88-87 victory Jan. 29 in Boston.

Cleveland finished its franchise record nine-game homestand with a 4-5 record.

Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal missed his second straight game with a sprained left wrist. He remained in Boston and will be examined by doctors Wednesday.

NOTES: Boston F Brandon Bass, who had missed the past six games with a sore left knee, and center Chris Wilcox, who didn’t play in the final game before the All-Star break because of a strained right adductor, both returned. Bass scored 12 points while Wilcox had five points and a season-high 11 rebounds. … Parker returned after missing 12 games because of a lower back strain. He scored one point in 22 minutes. … Cavaliers G Manny Harris came off the bench in the first quarter, his first appearance since being signed to a 10-day contract last week. He had been playing with Canton of the NBA Development League.

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Rookie Harangody Leads Celtics Over Raptors

BOSTON (AP) — Rookie Luke Harangody had career highs with 17 points and 11 rebounds for his first NBA double-double, and the earned the 3,000th victory in franchise history, beating the 122-102 on Friday night.

Harangody, a rookie from Notre Dame, had never played more than 16 minutes in a game. He got in early for the short-handed Celtics and had doubled his career high for points (four) by the end of the first quarter. His previous highs for rebounds was also four.

Paul Pierce scored 20 and Ray Allen added 17 for Boston, which tied a season high for points in a half with 67 in the first and never let the Raptors get closer than 12 in the second half.

DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 20 points. Toronto has lost four of five and seven of nine despite shooting well (40 for 79) on Friday. But the Celtics outscored the Raptors 54-44 in the paint and outrebounded them 43-31.

The Raptors got as close as 13 in the third and were down 87-73 after two foul shots by Amir Johnson before Harangody helped quickly rebuild Boston’s lead. Pierce made two free throws to put the Celtics up 89-73, then Harangody blocked a layup attempt by Ed Davis and rumbled back to the Celtics’ end to score on his own layup with 1:53 left in the third.

Andrea Bargnani got Toronto within 98-86, but that was as close as the Raptors would come. The Celtics scored the next 10 points during a 15-1 run that sealed the victory and a 3-1 win for the Celtics in the season series.

Allen started it with a 3-pointer, Harangody hit an 18-footer and Nate Robinson took a steal in for a layup to put Boston ahead 109-86. Harangody showed some agility a few minutes later when he drove under the basket and banked in a reverse layup to put Boston up 113-87.

Fans reveled in the rookie’s career night and chanted “Luuuuke!” throughout the game.

Notes: All five Toronto starters scored in double figures. Linas Kleiza and Bargnani had 17 apiece. Jose Calderon scored 11 and Johnson added 10. … Coach said before the game that could return to the lineup as early as next week. The Celtics are 5-1 since the star forward went out with a right calf injury. … Friday’s win gave Rivers 308 with the Celtics, tying him with K.C. Jones for third on the franchise list — still a long way from Red Auerbach’s 795. … The Celtics also scored 67 points in the second half of their victory over the on Dec. 15.

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Thunder, Without Durant, Hold Off Celtics 89-84

BOSTON Russell Westbrook scored 31 points despite missing all seven shots he took in the fourth quarter and the Oklahoma City Thunder squandered most of a 10-point lead before holding on to beat the 89-84 on Friday night.

Westbrook went 11 for 13 from the line, hitting a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left after Boston cut the deficit to 85-84. The Thunder were playing without NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant, who has a sore left ankle.

scored 16 points for the Celtics, but had a season-low two rebounds. Rajon Rondo had 14 points and a season-low seven assists. Glen “Big Baby” Davis went 2 for 10 from the field and missed four free throws in the fourth quarter.

Boston had won three in a row and eight of nine.

Oklahoma missed its last 13 shots of the game, and the Celtics missed their last nine as the teams combined for just 27 points in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics have dodged two of the top young players in the league this week. On Wednesday, No. 1 overall draft choice John Wall sat out the ‘ game in Boston with a sprained left foot; the Celtics won that one 114-83, their biggest margin of victory of the season.

But the Thunder managed to overcome Durant’s absence against the defending Eastern Conference champions.

The Thunder took a 77-67 lead near the end of the third when Westbrook lost control of the ball and it rolled over to Royal Ivey, who put up a desperation 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and smiled as it banked off the glass and through the net. Delonte West scored to make it 77-69 heading into the fourth.

It was a nine-point game with 7:11 left before the Celtics cut it to 83-79 on five free throws. It was still a four-point game when Davis missed both free throws, then went back to the line and missed one of two. West made a pair of foul shots to make it a one-point game with 76 seconds left.

But Ray Allen, who scored eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, missed a 3-pointer that would have given Boston its first lead of the half. After Westbrook’s free throws, West missed a 3 that would have tied it.

Garnett played just three minutes in the first quarter but returned in the second with a big bump on the back of his head. Rondo came up limping during a timeout with 6:19 left to play in the fourth; he stayed in the game for another possession, then came out for West.

NOTES: The Thunder used three different starting lineups all of last year. They’ve now used three in the first 12 games this year. … Boston’s had 10 of his 11 points in the first quarter. … The Celtics had trailed only once before at halftime. … receiver Wes Welker, an Oklahoma City native, was in the crowd wearing a Thunder cap. … It was Durant’s first game out since he sat out seven in a row in March 2009.

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