LOS ANGELES, April 22 – LeBron James tallied 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics 99-91 Tuesday to seize a 2-0 lead in their first round playoff series.
James committed six of Cleveland’s 18 turnovers but came through down the stretch.
“I’ve been in this moment before and a lot of our guys haven’t,” said James, who also passed Jerry West for seventh on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list.
“I felt like it was important for me to put a staple on the game the best way I know how and that’s to be aggressive. It’s very important for me to be there for my team when needed.”
In the other Eastern Conference game Tuesday, John Wall scored 26 points as the Washington Wizards surprised the Toronto Raptors 117-106 to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.
The Houston Rockets beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-99 to take a 2-0 series lead in the only Western Conference playoff game.
Kyrie Irving followed up his 30-point playoff debut in game one with 26 points for the Cavaliers, while Timofey Mozgov and Kevin Love chipped in 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Isaiah Thomas once again led the Celtics with 22 points. But it wasn’t enough for the underdogs to grab homecourt advantage in the series. They will host game three on Thursday.
Boston didn’t get the victory but they did give the Cavs a scare. They led in the last minute of the opening half and were within four points with just over three minutes to go.
– ‘Step in right direction’ –
“We made those guys earn everything they got,” said Boston coach Brad Stevens. “I think that is a step in the right direction.”
Boston led at the end of one quarter 26-25 and used a 12-2 run in the middle of the second quarter to take its largest lead at 45-36.
Again the Cavs had an answer, scoring 15 of the final 19 points in the half to take a 51-50 lead into the break.
They looked as if they were going to pull away with a quick 10-0 run in the third quarter, highlighted by a pair of alley-oop tosses that were finished off by Love and James.
The Celtics pulled within two 79-77 when Thomas converted a three-point play with 9:17 remaining in regulation.
From there, James scored 11 of his game-high total.
In Toronto, Bradley Beal scored a playoff career-high 28 points and Marcin Gortat added 16 and eight rebounds for the Wizards.
The Wizards finished the regular season 17-24 on the road, but the postseason is their time to shine. With this victory, they improved to 7-1 in their last eight playoff games on the road.
DeMar DeRozan and Lou Williams, who was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year on Monday, paced Toronto with 20 points apiece.
In Houston, Josh Smith tallied 13 points, nine assists and six rebounds in the second half to lead the Rockets over the Mavericks. Smith had just two points in the first half.