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Celtics make 25-point lead stand up, tie series

Guard Rajon Rondo, who tied Bob Cousy’s Celtics playoff record with 19 assists, looks to pass around Antawn Jamison.

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Guard Rajon Rondo, who tied Bob Cousy’s Celtics playoff record with 19 assists, looks to pass around Antawn Jamison.

Celtics 26 26 31 21 104
at Cavaliers 22 26 12 26 86
Series tied at 1

CLEVELAND — The window hasn't closed on the Celtics. It's still wide open.

Rajon Rondo tied Bob Cousy's team playoff record with 19 assists, Ray Allen scored 22 and the Celtics, showing they're still dangerous despite their years, opened a 25-point lead in the fourth then survived Cleveland's comeback for a 104-86 win Monday night to even their semifinal series at 1.

After blowing an 11-point lead in the third quarter of Game 1, the Celtics almost squandered a much bigger one.

They led 91-66 with 9:08 left, and some Cleveland fans had departed.

"We're going to the bar," one said as he bounded up the steps.

But the Cavs scored 15 straight and pulled within 93-83 on LeBron James' basket with 3:13 left.

Boston closed with an 11-3 spurt.

James scored 24 and Antawn Jamison 16 for Cleveland, outscored 31-12 in the third.

The Celtics seemed in control with their 25-point bulge but got complacent and found themselves having to scramble down the stretch when they could have been resting.

"We were playing the clock instead of the game and got stagnant," Rondo said.

Leading 93-83, Boston regrouped. Rondo and Allen scored, then Kevin Garnett completed a three-point play to make it 100-84.

Garnett finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Pierce scored 14.

Rasheed Wallace, called out by coach Doc Rivers after shooting 1-for-5 in the opener, made his first five shots — three of them 3-pointers — and scored 17 off the bench.

BOSTON (104): Pierce 4-10 4-4 14, Garnett 8-21 2-2 18, Perkins 5-6 0-0 10, Rondo 5-10 2-4 13, R.Allen 8-15 3-4 22, Wallace 7-8 0-0 17, T.Allen 1-4 2-2 4, Davis 2-2 2-2 6, Finley 0-1 0-0 0, Daniels 0-1 0-0 0, Robinson 0-0 0-0 0, S.Williams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 40-78 15-18 104.

CLEVELAND (86): James 7-15 10-15 24, Jamison 6-11 2-4 16, O'Neal 4-10 1-2 9, M.Williams 1-9 2-3 4, Parker 2-7 0-0 6, Varejao 2-3 4-5 8, West 1-4 2-2 4, Hickson 4-6 5-7 13, Moon 1-3 0-0 2, Gibson 0-1 0-0 0, J.Williams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-70 26-38 86.

3-Point GoalsBoston 9-19 (Wallace 3-4, R.Allen 3-7, Pierce 2-5, Rondo 1-2, Finley 0-1), Cleveland 4-21 (Parker 2-4, Jamison 2-5, West 0-1, Gibson 0-1, Moon 0-1, J.Williams 0-1, James 0-4, M.Williams 0-4). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsBoston 51 (Garnett 10), Cleveland 44 (Varejao, James 7). AssistsBoston 30 (Rondo 19), Cleveland 17 (M.Williams 7). Total FoulsBoston 31, Cleveland 16. TechnicalsPerkins, Pierce, Varejao, Cleveland defensive three second. Flagrant Fouls—Varejao. A20,562 (20,562).

suns' lopez sits: Phoenix center Robin Lopez declared himself out for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against San Antonio on Monday but says he can play at some point in the series. Lopez hasn't played since March 26 because of a bulging disk that cut off a nerve to the right leg.

bulls fire coach: Chicago fired coach Vinny Del Negro after a late-season altercation with executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and a second straight first-round playoff exit. The Bulls went 41-41 in both seasons under Del Negro. Along with working with Derrick Rose, a new coach will be joining a team armed with salary-cap space to offer a maximum contract in a free-agent class that could include James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Chicago Tribune reported that Kentucky coach John Calipari won't be considered.

around the league: There's no indication Pat Riley is unhappy with coach Erik Spoelstra, but the Heat president wouldn't close the door on resuming his Hall of Fame coaching career. "I'll do whatever is in the best interest of building the team here. Period," said Riley, 65. … The 76ers conducted a second formal interview, meeting with Avery Johnson in Houston. Johnson, 45, is a studio analyst for ABC/ESPN. He was 194-70 as Mavs coach in 2004-08. On Saturday, president and general manager Ed Stefanski met with Doug Collins in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Celtics make 25-point lead stand up, tie series 05/04/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 1:30am]

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