Saved By the Block
Celtics Hold Off Short-Handed Cavaliers
Boston — Brandon Bass couldn’t hide his smile after his timely blocked shot for the Boston Celtics.
Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford each scored 19 points, Bass added 15 points and had a game-saving block in the closing seconds Saturday, and the Celtics held on for a 103-100 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Early in the third quarter, Bass made a 3-pointer for only the second time in 18 career attempts, but it was timely play against Dion Waiters that made his day.
“The block,” he said, with a wide grin coming across his face when asked what play he enjoyed more. “The block was huge, man. The 3-pointer was cool, but the block was huge.”
The Cavaliers were playing soon after suspending center Andrew Bynum indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team” and banning him from all team-related activities. Bynum, who signed a two-year, $24 million contract with the Cavaliers in July, did not travel with the team to Boston and it’s likely he has played his final game for Cleveland.
Avery Bradley added 18 points and eight rebounds to help Boston snap a three-game losing streak. Bass also had eight rebounds.
Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 32 points, the eighth time in his last 10 games he has scored 20 or more. Waiters added 17 points, and Jarrett Jack had 14 for Cleveland, which lost its fourth straight.
The Celtics led by 19 points entering the final quarter and held a 10-point edge with 4 1/2 minutes to play.
Boston had blown big leads in its last two home games.
“You know, I was telling (team President) Rich Gotham it should have been promoted as part of our holiday package,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “Every game is an adventure.”
It looked as if Boston would coast to the win before Jack hit consecutive 3-pointers, the second to cut it to 98-94 with 2:38 left. Cleveland had it down to four points twice again before Waiters’ two free throws made it 102-100 with 43.3 seconds left.
After Jared Sullinger shot an air ball on a 3-point attempt from the right wing that went out of bounds with 19.3 seconds left, Bass blocked Waiters’ shot in the lane and Bradley made a free throw with 1.4 seconds left.
“I tried to drive by and get the layup,” Waiters said. “I thought I got the (foul). I didn’t. They didn’t call it.”
After a timeout, Cleveland inbounded the ball to Earl Clark, who threw up an air ball as the horn sounded.
“I was just supposed to set a pick for Kyrie,” Clark said. “He wasn’t open. They just kept switching.”
Irving felt a slow start cost them.
“Dion tried to make a crucial play at a crucial time and came up a little short,” he said.
“But this could have been avoided in quarters previous to this. Like I said, we just have to get off to better starts throughout the game so we don’t put ourselves in a big hole like that.”
Notes: Boston next plays Tuesday afternoon when it hosts Atlanta in the opener of a day/night NBA/NHL doubleheader. The Bruins face the New York Islanders at night. ... The Cavaliers host Golden State today in what was scheduled to be an “Andrew Bynum Fathead Giveaway” game.