Tatum scores 23, Celtics beat Cavaliers 98-92 to split set
Jayson Tatum scored 23 points and Dennis Schroder had six points in the final 76 seconds as the Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-92 on Monday night, splitting their two-game set at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Al Horford had 17 points and nine rebounds, and Schroder and Marcus Smart each scored 14 as Boston (7-7) won for the third time in four games. Tatum also had eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks.
On Saturday, Darius Garland made two free throws with 9.4 seconds left as Cleveland rallied from a 19-point deficit in a 91-89 win over Boston. Both teams played their third game in four nights.
“That last game didn’t leave a good taste, so we wanted to get back to our winning ways,” Tatum said. “You’ve got to find a way, whatever it takes, and we competed and had good communication. I think we’re all starting to get on the same page.”
Ricky Rubio scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half, Cedi Osman had 26 points and five assists off the bench, and Darius Garland scored 17 for the Cavaliers (9-6), who have won six of eight.
Cleveland rookie Evan Mobley missed all 11 of his field goal attempts and finished with one point, nine rebounds and five assists before heading into the locker room early in the fourth quarter with a sprained right elbow.
“Evan got tangled up a little bit,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.
The Cavaliers appeared to take a 90-88 lead with 1:51 left, but Denzel Valentine’s back foot was out of bounds on a 3-pointer. Schroder made back-to-back baskets to extend Boston’s advantage to 94-89, then tacked on two free throws to close out the scoring.
“We stayed pretty calm throughout, and that starts with Jayson because we just kind of follow him,” Horford said.
Mobley, the third overall draft selection from USC, started at center for the first time after top rebounder Jarrett Allen fell ill before the game. Leading scorer Collin Sexton is out indefinitely with torn cartilage in his left knee.
“If you want to make excuses all night, that’s fine, but we can’t be complaining that this guy is out or that guy is missing,” Rubio said. “Everybody goes through a lot in this league, so it’s about taking care of your teammates.”
Tatum scored 10 points in the third as Boston went ahead for the first time and held a 65-64 advantage. Rubio had 14 points in the period, which featured five lead changes and seven ties.
The Cavaliers went ahead by 11 in the first and second quarters before carrying a 39-37 lead into the break. Celtics center Robert Williams III grabbed six boards before exiting with a sore left knee.
“I think we’ve been through every late-game situation so far,” Boston coach Ime Udoka said. “It’s good that we pulled away at the end.”
Former Celtics cult hero Tacko Fall logged his first meaningful time with the Cavaliers, grabbing two rebounds in eight uneventful minutes.
Celtics G Dennis Schroder has averaged 24 points in five starts filling in for injured G Jaylen Brown, but Udoka said he will return to a bench role once Brown returns. “We like our regular starting lineup,” Udoka explained. “Dennis is a pseudo sixth starter for us, coming off the bench and finishing games.” Brown, who strained his right hamstring on Nov. 4 at Miami, performed some drills earlier in the day.
Celtics: C Enes Kanter played a season-high eight minutes, scoring five points, after appearing in two of the first 13 games. Kanter tweeted a flip-card animation Sunday with the caption, “Keep limiting me on the court, I will expose you off the court.” Udoka said he spoke with Kanter, telling him playing time is earned for basketball reasons only. … G Brodric Thomas (left shoulder sprain) has not played this season.
Cavaliers: F Lauri Markkanen is no longer in the NBA’s health and safety protocols for COVID-19, but missed his seventh game in a row. Markkanen and F Kevin Love are both working on their conditioning before returning to game action. … F Lamar Stevens (right ankle sprain) was inactive for the second straight game, while G Collin Sexton (left meniscus tear) is out indefinitely after being hurt Nov. 7 at New York.
Celtics: Visit the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
Cavaliers: Visit the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.