CLEVELAND, December 1- Boston guard Rajon Rondo scored a season-high 23 points and added 12 assists Tuesday to spark the Celtics past Cleveland 106-87 in the Cavaliers' last game before LeBron James returns.
Glen Davis added 17 points while Marquis Daniels contributed 16 points and Kevin Garnett pulled down 10 rebounds as the Celtics avenged an earlier loss at Cleveland, where mention of Miami’s visit on Thursday was greeted with boos.
James, a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, left the Cavaliers last July for Miami and an emotional negative reception is expected when the Heat arrive on Thursday.
"It will be really hostile," Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson said. "It’s no secret. He is coming back to where he originally started. It’s going to be a great environment. I would be lying if I said it’s a normal game."
Rondo, playing with a sore left hamstring and foot, made 11 of 14 shots in a run that enabled the Celtics to lead by 20 points in the fourth quarter.
Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson scored 16 points each to lead Cleveland.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said extra arena security would be in place when James and the Heat arrive.
"You don’t want to see anything stupid happen," Gilbert said. "I don’t want to see anybody do something they shouldn’t do. I’m sure a lot of them will make their feelings known, but as long as everybody plays by the rules and doesn’t go over the top, everything will be fine.
"I really believe that Cleveland people will do the right thing."
The Cavaliers have struggled to a 7-10 start without James, whose Heat have fared little better at only 10-6. James jerseys were burned in the days after the superstar’s departure and there was concern about taunts going too far.
"I’m sure it’ll be loud and exciting and people have a lot of pent up emotion, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything that’s outrageous, extraordinary that we haven’t seen in sports history," Gilbert said.
Meanwhile, Memphis playmaker Mike Conley scored 28 points Tuesday and the Grizzlies edged the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers 98-96, delivering the Lakers’ third loss in a row.
The Grizzlies improved to 8-10 with their fourth home triumph in a row and fourth win in five games while the Lakers fell to 13-5, falling behind Dallas for the second-best record in the NBA behind San Antonio.
The Lakers have lost three in a row only once before since obtaining Spanish star Pau Gasol from Memphis in a 2008 trade to provide the inside power for Kobe Bryant that Shaquille O’Neal had once provided for the Lakers.
Bryant led the Lakers with 29 points despite shooting 9-of-25 from the field while Gasol added 15 points and 14 rebounds and Ron Artest contributed 12 points in a losing cause.
In the final seconds, Conley lost the ball driving to the basket and Bryant flipped the ball to Artest for a potential game-winning 3-pointer, but Rudy Gay blocked the shot for the Grizzlies and the Lakers suffered their second loss to Memphis in the past four meetings.
Gay added 14 points for the Grizzlies, who also had 13 from Zach Randolph, 12 by Xavier Henry, 11 from reserve O.J. Mayo plus 10 points and 12 rebounds from Marc Gasol, Pau’s brother.