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Published: Wednesday, 2/29/2012

Cavs fall short against Celtics

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Cavs' Kyrie Irving drives between the Celtics' Ray Allen (20) and Rajon Rondo (9) in the second quarter Tuesday in Cleveland. Irving had 24 points in the loss.
The Cavs' Kyrie Irving drives between the Celtics' Ray Allen (20) and Rajon Rondo (9) in the second quarter Tuesday in Cleveland. Irving had 24 points in the loss.
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CLEVELAND -- Ray Allen scored 22 points, Kevin Garnett added 18, and the Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 86-83 on Tuesday night to snap a five-game losing streak.

Boston, which couldn't hold a 16-point lead in the first quarter, avoided its first six-game skid since dropping seven in a row from April 4-15, 2007.

Kyrie Irving returned from a bruised elbow that sidelined him late in the second quarter and led Cleveland with 24 points, 19 in the second half.

Irving hit two free throws with 1:21 remaining to give Cleveland an 81-80 lead. After Allen missed a 3-pointer, Garnett tipped Irving's pass, leading to Allen's dunk with 48.6 seconds left.

Irving drove down the lane and missed a layup with 27 seconds remaining. Garnett missed on Boston's next possession, but grabbed his own rebound and was fouled by Antawn Jamison with 3.9 seconds to go. Garnett made both shots and the Cavaliers called a timeout, trailing 84-81.

Irving was fouled before he could get off a 3-point attempt and made both free throws with 3.5 seconds left. Allen hit two foul shots with 2.4 seconds remaining, and Anthony Parker's 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the front rim.

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was held scoreless for the first time since March 16 last season against Indiana, but had 11 assists.

The Celtics lead the Cavaliers by 2 1/2 games for eighth place in the East.

Boston lost its final five games before the All-Star break, the last three by 15 or more points. It appeared the Celtics were headed to a blowout of their own as they dominated the first quarter, shooting 12 for 20 from the field. Their biggest lead was 28-12 on Garnett's bank shot with 19 seconds left in the period.

Irving left the game with 3:41 remaining before halftime after taking a charge from Paul Pierce.



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