Published: Thu, May 25, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Irving's 42 points power Cavs past Celtics

James did not address the media a day after one of the worst postseason games of his career.

Imagine being down by 13 points and losing the best player in the world to his fourth foul before the second quarter of Game Four in the Eastern Conference finals is even over.

"I didn't have it", said James.

Either way, a Cleveland win in Thursday's Game 5 will give Lue time to start preparing for Golden State in full force.

The Cavaliers held the Celtics to 14 of 34 shooting in the second half and outrebounded their visitors, 18-12, to turn a 57-47 halftime deficit into a 112-99 victory to take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 on May 25 in Boston.

As he walked down a hallway inside Quicken Loans Arena to the postgame news conference, James was heckled by the fan for his sub-par outing. Corralling him will be just as problematic, maybe more so, than finding a way to limit James tonight at the Garden.

Stevens said Thomas may consult with two additional specialists. However, there are still troubling signs, such as that the Cavs have been outscored by five points in first halves alone when James sits. Me personally, I didn't have it. And it's making us tougher.

When the two teams left Boston after Game 2, the Cavs had beaten the Celtics by 44 points for the most lopsided win in Eastern finals history. Al Horford contributed 16 points and seven assists.

LeBron shot a very efficient 7-for-11 in the 4th quarter, and made one of two three point attempts.

Cleveland committed 15 turnovers, including five in the fourth quarter.

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Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said James is "human so he's going to have a night like this". "He didn't shoot the ball well, and we still had a 20-point lead". It's not something we're going to hang our head on.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens was disappointed with his team's defense on Irving, who was able to spread the floor while surrounded by shooters.

"I just think physically we weren't as physical as we needed to be defensively", Lue said.

The Celtics aren't giving an inch despite missing guard Isaiah Thomas, who might need surgery for a hip injury.

"'He kept feeding them and tried to let the game come to him, and he got out of rhythm a little bit, ' [coach Tyronn] Lue told ESPN".

"We've got to put it behind us", he added. "We've got to be a lot better for sure". Those guys made plays.

For a superstar who regularly seizes the biggest moments and makes them his own, it was odd to see James basically look like one of Cleveland's reserves. In the second half, he was 1-for-5 from the field and 0-for-3 on 3-pointers. It means the Celtics showed they usually succeed when they hit open shots and play with some pizzazz. James had been leading the team in win probability added before that (plus-13 percent per game) and ranks eighth overall this postseason.

James wasn't happy and carried some of that into his press conference.

"You obviously hear people saying that it's all about how you respond, and we don't feel like people believed in us and counted us out", Bradley said. "You always come around when we lose, I swear". If not for that, we might be looking at a 2-2 series tie heading back to Boston.

"They're playing a lot differently now".

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