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Irving’s 40 Lead Cavs Past C’s

  • FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2011 file photo, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell shakes hands with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis. Goodell has reinstated Payton following a season-long suspension for his role in the team's bounty scandal. The announcement comes Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, a day after Payton met with Goodell. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2011 file photo, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell shakes hands with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis. Goodell has reinstated Payton following a season-long suspension for his role in the team's bounty scandal. The announcement comes Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, a day after Payton met with Goodell. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching, File)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2011 file photo, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell shakes hands with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis. Goodell has reinstated Payton following a season-long suspension for his role in the team's bounty scandal. The announcement comes Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, a day after Payton met with Goodell. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2011 file photo, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell shakes hands with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis. Goodell has reinstated Payton following a season-long suspension for his role in the team's bounty scandal. The announcement comes Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, a day after Payton met with Goodell. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching, File)

  • Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) drives past Boston Celtics' Avery Bradley (0) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

    Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) drives past Boston Celtics' Avery Bradley (0) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2011 file photo, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell shakes hands with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis. Goodell has reinstated Payton following a season-long suspension for his role in the team's bounty scandal. The announcement comes Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, a day after Payton met with Goodell. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching, File)
  • FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2011 file photo, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell shakes hands with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis. Goodell has reinstated Payton following a season-long suspension for his role in the team's bounty scandal. The announcement comes Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, a day after Payton met with Goodell. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching, File)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) drives past Boston Celtics' Avery Bradley (0) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland — Kyrie Irving scored 15 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter, including several key late baskets, to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 95-90 victory over the Boston Celtics last night.

Irving scored 11 points in the final 2:33 on four layups and three free throws to give Cleveland back-to-back wins at home for the first time this season and send Boston to its season-high fourth straight loss.

Irving shot 16 for 24 — setting a career high for field goals made — and fell one point short of his career-best scoring total, set at New York on Dec. 15.

Tristan Thompson added 21 points for the Cavaliers.

Rajon Rondo led Boston with 17 points while Kevin Garnett scored 16. Paul Pierce, who scored 40 points in a 103-91 win over the Cavaliers in Boston on Dec. 19, finished with 12 points on 3-for-15 shooting.

Irving’s layup gave Cleveland an 84-83 lead with 2:33 remaining. He followed with another layup after Rajon Rondo’s turnover to put the Cavs up three. Four free throws by Garnett sandwiched around a basket by Alonzo Gee left Cleveland with an 88-87 lead.

After Garnett missed a baseline jumper, Irving dribbled past midcourt and drove to the basket for a three-point lead with 52 seconds remaining.

Following another miss by the Celtics, the Cavaliers called timeout. Irving dribbled into the lane and hit a twisting shot while being fouled by Jared Sullinger. He made the free throw to put Cleveland ahead 93-87 with 22.8 seconds left.

After Pierce shot an airball, Irving made two more free throws with 18.2 seconds left to put the game away.

The Celtics have dropped four in a row since winning six straight. Rivers blasted his team following Sunday’s 103-88 loss in Detroit, a game which Boston never led. The latest loss dropped Boston to 20-21.

“I believe we should be better than that — and we’re not — so it’s hard,” Rivers said before last night’s game.

The Cavaliers acquired three players and a future first-round draft pick from Memphis earlier in the day. Cleveland picked up forward Marreese Speights and guards Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby in exchange for forward Jon Leuer. Speights will help replace Anderson Varejao, who will miss the remainder of the season after developing a blood clot in his right lung. Varejao had had surgery on Jan. 10 to repair a split leg muscle. He was expected to miss two months, but the blood clot was discovered last week and he has been placed on blood thinners.

Irving, who was 7 of 20 from the field in Saturday’s loss to Utah, had a strong start against Boston with 19 points in the first quarter, hitting 8 of 10 from the field.

Cleveland led 54-53 at halftime, but two 3-pointers by Avery Bradley and another by Jeff Green helped Boston take a 70-63 lead. The Cavaliers scored the next seven points, but Courtney Lee’s 3-pointer as the third quarter expired put the Celtics ahead 73-70.

Cavaliers starting guard C.J. Miles didn’t play because of an illness that has hit several players and a couple of assistant coaches.

Sullinger, who played at Ohio State, scored 12 points and had 10 rebounds for Boston.

Notes: Bradley, who scored seven points, continues to play with sore ribs. “I feel for Avery because that’s a hard injury to play through,” Rivers said. “It hurts to breathe and it hurts every time you get hit anywhere near your ribs.”

Pistons 105, Magic 90

Auburn Hils, Mich. — Jason Maxiell, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe combined for 38 points and 28 rebounds, and Detroit pulled away to beat undersized Orlando.

Brandon Knight led Detroit with 18 points, while Monroe scored 16 and Drummond and Maxiell each had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Kings Sold to Seattle Group

Sacramento, Calif. — Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson had a stern warning for Seattle SuperSonics fans who are excited about the prospect of the NBA returning to the Puget Sound next season. “Don’t celebrate too early,” he said.

In front of a cheering City Hall crowd filled with fans and public officials yesterday, Johnson introduced the first part of his four-step plan to keep the Sacramento Kings in California’s capital city.

The three-time NBA All-Star turned mayor unveiled 19 local investors who have pledged at least $1 million each to be part of a group that would buy the franchise. Johnson said the major partner he hopes will anchor the last-ditch deal to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle will be revealed as soon as this week.

“We’ve been here before,” Johnson said. “Our backs have been against the wall. They told us it wasn’t going to happen. But each and every step along the way, as long as there is time on the clock, our community always finds a way to stand up for itself.”

Unlike the last two years, Sacramento is up against a group that already has signed agreements to acquire the Kings and build a new arena for the franchise.

The mayor’s announcement came a day after the Maloof family announced a deal to sell the Kings to a Seattle group that includes investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. The signed purchase agreement is still pending a vote by the NBA Board of Governors.

The group will buy 65 percent of the franchise, which has a total valuation of $525 million, and move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name, a person familiar with the decision has said. That means the group will pay a little more than $340 million.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal is waiting to be approved. Hansen’s group also is hoping to buy out other minority investors.

The main stipulation Johnson is counting on is that the Maloofs are still allowed to receive other offers until the league approves the sale, which the mayor expects to take until at least April, when owners meet in New York. The deadline for teams to file for relocation for next season is March 1, though that has been extended the last two years for the Kings.