x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Cavaliers undone by Pierce power

Paul Pierce scored 29 points and added nine assists as the Boston Celtics level with the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Paul Pierce scored 29 points and added nine assists as the Boston Celtics pulled into a tie with the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the Eastern Conference after beating them 105-94. Playing without their defensive leader Kevin Garnett for the seventh consecutive game, the Celtics limited All Star LeBron James to 21 points. "This is a big win - both teams are playing for first place in the East and home court advantage [in the play-offs]," Pierce said.

"They were physical, but we played our game and limited our turnovers." Boston (49-14) forward Leon Powe had a season-high 20 points and 11 rebounds. The Cavaliers (48-13) still hold a better winning percentage than the Celtics after dropping their first game in five. Mo Williams led the way for Cleveland with 26 points while James finished five-for-15 shooting from the field. The game was tied at 57-57 with 6:56 remaining in the third before the Celtics closed the quarter with a 21-12 run to take a 78-69 advantage.

In a rematch of last season's hard fought seven-game Eastern Conference semi-finals series, things became testy in the third quarter. Boston forward Glen Davis was ejected after committing a hard foul on Anderson Varejao and players had to be separated. Meanwhile in other action, Dwayne Wade hit 40 points as the Miami Heat defeated the Toronto Raptors 108-102, while the Orlando Magic narrowly saw off the New Jersey Nets 105-102.

The Detroit Pistons had a comfortable 108-91 success over the Golden State Warriors, while Tony Parker led the scoring with 19 points for the San Antonio Spurs as they cruised to a 100-78 win over the Washington Wizards. * With agencies