On Paul Pierce’s Night, LeBron James Steals the Show



Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics was on the losing end of a battle against his former teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers, including LeBron James.

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

BOSTON — LeBron James quieted a Celtics crowd that had come to celebrate Paul Pierce, scoring 24 points with 10 assists and 8 rebounds and helping give new-look Cleveland a 121-99 victory over Boston on Sunday in an individual performance reminiscent of the rivalry’s heyday.

And this time, Pierce was sitting courtside in street clothes, unable to do anything about it.

James shook off a first-quarter leg injury and scored 13 points in the second quarter, 8 of them during a 13-2 run that turned a 1-point deficit into a double-digit lead. The Celtics made it 64-55 on the first basket of the third quarter but never got within 10 points again.

As the Cavaliers opened a 27-point lead midway through the fourth, the crowd began chanting, “We want Paul Pierce!” But he remained in his seat, awaiting the postgame ceremony that would raise his No. 34 to the TD Garden rafters. He is the 23rd person in the history of the Celtics, the N.B.A.’s most-decorated franchise, to be honored that way.

The current Celtics, who have spent much of the season in first place in the East, could have used him.

Terry Rozier scored 21 points with 9 assists, and Kyrie Irving scored 18 against his former team before sitting out the fourth quarter as the game became a runaway. The Celtics have lost three of their last four games, falling behind Toronto in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Cavaliers, who have won three straight, are five and a half games behind Boston.

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