Sat, May 10, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Boston boss the Cavaliers to take a 2-0 series lead

AFP , BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

Paul Pierce scored 19 points and Boston's defense was again dominant on Thursday as the Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 89-73 in the NBA playoffs.

The victory gave the Celtics a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series.

Ray Allen broke out of his slump with 16 points and Kevin Garnett chipped in 13 points and 12 rebounds as the Celtics took a commanding lead before the series shifts to Cleveland for Game 3 today.

After notching the NBA’s best road record in the regular season of 31-10, the Celtics are 0-3 on the road in the post-season.

As he did in Game 1, Cleveland superstar LeBron James struggled, finishing with 21 points on 6-of-24 shooting. Overall the Cavaliers shot 35 percent from the floor.

James, a five-time All-Star, also turned the ball over seven times. The 23-year-old is eight-of-42 from the floor with 17 turnovers in the series overall.

As in the series opener, when he made just two baskets, James was forced to take a host of jumpers and missed on many.

Things started promisingly when James threw down an alley-oop and scored on a stunning reverse to cap Cleveland’s game-opening 21-9 run.

But Cleveland saw their lead evaporate as they had only three field goals in the final 15 minutes of the opening half.

James was 0-of-5 from the floor in the second quarter, including two airballs. The Celtics took their first lead, 28-27, in the second period when Posey stripped James of the ball and went all the way for a dunk.

Pierce, given the task of defending James for much of the series, admitted he was surprised at Boston’s success in containing the Cavs star.

“I’m kind of shocked he’s 8-for-42,” Pierce said. “This is what we work on. We work on trying to contain him. And it’s not me, it’s everybody. It’s total team defense. You look at their team, they’re solid all the way around with great shooters — but LeBron is what makes them go.”

Allen, who was held scoreless in Game 1 for the first time since 1997, scored his first points of the series to open the second half, sparking a 12-0 burst that opened things up.

Allen had been 0-of-8 from the floor and had a rare free throw miss in the first half before finally breaking into the scoring column.

Meanwhile James’ first two touches of the second half resulted in a turnover and a missed jumper. He did not score again until a jump shot with 5 minutes, 4 seconds left in the third pulled Cleveland within 12 points.

But the Celtics took a 19-point advantage into the final quarter and stretched the lead to as many as 24 in the fourth.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 10 of his 19 points in the game’s first eight-plus minutes to spark Cleveland early. Wally Szczerbiak added 13 points.

The Cavaliers were also without center Ben Wallace for most of the game.

Wallace left the court in the first quarter complaining of dizziness. He appeared unsteady as he approached the team’s bench and was escorted to the locker room.

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