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Cavs top Celtics, may need center

The Cavs’ LeBron James battles the Celtics’ Ray Allen, left, and Kevin Garnett on his way toward a 36-point night.

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The Cavs’ LeBron James battles the Celtics’ Ray Allen, left, and Kevin Garnett on his way toward a 36-point night.

BOSTON — LeBron James had 36 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, Mo Williams scored 14 of his 19 in the fourth quarter, and the Cavaliers surged past the Celtics 108-88 Thursday night.

James kept the Cavaliers in it for three quarters on a night they lost center Shaquille O'Neal to a first-half thumb injury. Williams made four 3-pointers when Cleveland blew by the Celtics in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 35-14.

Unable to stop Rajon Rondo or the Celtics in the first quarter, the Cavaliers limited the Celtics to 3-of-21 shooting and ending a nine-game skid in Boston, counting playoffs.

"We haven't had much success here," James said. "… So it gets the monkey off our backs. But don't read too much into it."

Ray Allen scored 21, and Rondo had 19 points for the Celtics, who missed top-scorer Paul Pierce (right thumb) when their offense went stagnant.

O'Neal left with 6:58 left in the first half after spraining his right thumb from contact with Celtics reserve Glen Davis. An early report on O'Neal's injury called the injury "significant."

"We need him out there," James said. "We play faster without Shaq in the lineup … but in the playoffs, you can't play fast all the time. You need to establish the half-court offense. That's what he does for us."

If O'Neal's out, former Cav Zydrunas Ilgauskas could return from the three-team trade that sent him to the Wizards. The 7-foot-3 center was waived by the Wizards earlier in the day.

No team is far enough under the salary cap to absorb the 34-year-old's $11.5 million salary, so he will become a free agent eligible to join any team for a prorated share of the veteran's minimum. He would be able to rejoin the Cavs in 30 days but could sign with another team immediately.

Around the league: Nuggets coach George Karl missed the late game against the Warriors, the first time he has not been on the bench since revealing he has throat cancer.

Cavaliers 108, Celtics 88

CLEVELAND (108): James 11-23 11-15 36, Jamison 4-9 1-2 9, O'Neal 3-8 0-0 6, M.Williams 7-13 0-0 19, Parker 2-4 0-0 5, Varejao 6-7 2-2 14, West 3-6 0-0 7, Hickson 4-6 0-0 8, Powe 1-2 2-2 4. Totals 41-78 16-21 108.

BOSTON (88): Daniels 2-5 0-0 4, Garnett 4-10 2-2 10, Perkins 3-5 2-4 8, Rondo 8-19 3-6 19, R.Allen 7-13 3-3 21, Wallace 3-8 2-2 9, Davis 1-5 0-0 2, T.Allen 3-8 2-2 8, Robinson 2-6 2-4 7, Landry 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 33-81 16-23 88.

Cleveland 21 27 25 35— 108

Boston 31 25 18 14— 88

3-Point GoalsCle. 10-21 (M.Williams 5-9, James 3-6, West 1-2, Parker 1-2, Jamison 0-2), Boston 6-18 (R.Allen 4-8, Robinson 1-1, Wallace 1-3, T.Allen 0-1, Rondo 0-1, Landry 0-2, Daniels 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsCle. 49 (Varejao 10), Boston 48 (Garnett 10). AssistsCle. 24 (James 9), Boston 19 (Rondo 11). Total FoulsCle. 19, Boston 19. TechnicalsVarejao, Boston three second 2. A18,624.

Bucks 112, Pacers 110

MILWAUKEE (112): Delfino 3-9 3-4 10, Mbah a Moute 3-7 0-0 6, Bogut 7-9 1-1 15, Jennings 6-18 4-4 18, Salmons 5-12 9-10 20, Ridnour 6-11 0-0 12, Bell 1-1 0-0 3, Ilyasova 7-9 2-2 17, Stackhouse 4-10 1-2 11, Ivey 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 42-86 20-25 112.

INDIANA (110): Rush 1-4 0-0 3, Granger 7-15 7-8 21, Murphy 5-12 2-4 16, Ford 3-10 11-12 17, Watson 5-7 5-8 15, Dunleavy 1-6 5-6 7, Hibbert 6-7 0-0 12, Head 3-6 2-2 10, D.Jones 2-5 1-2 5, S.Jones 1-2 2-2 4. Totals 34-74 35-44 110.

Milwaukee 30 31 28 23— 112

Indiana 31 25 21 33— 110

3-Point GoalsMil. 8-18 (Stackhouse 2-4, Jennings 2-4, Bell 1-1, Ilyasova 1-2, Delfino 1-3, Salmons 1-3, Ridnour 0-1), Ind. 7-16 (Murphy 4-7, Head 2-2, Rush 1-1, Watson 0-1, Dunleavy 0-2, Granger 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMil. 53 (Bogut 10), Ind. 45 (Watson 8). AssistsMil. 24 (Ridnour 8), Ind. 18 (Watson, Ford 5). Total FoulsMil. 28, Ind. 20. Flagrant Fouls—S.Jones. A14,116.

Cavs top Celtics, may need center 02/25/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 26, 2010 12:23am]
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