Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) threads between Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and guard Jose Calderon on a drive to the basket during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. (AP Photo)
Washington, January 4 (AFP): Terry Rozier scored 20 points off the Boston bench to lead six double-figure scorers on Wednesday and the Celtics routed visiting Cleveland 102-88 in an NBA Eastern Conference showdown.
Jayson Tatum and reserve Marcus Smart each scored 15 points, Jaylen Brown added 14 points and Kyrie Irving and Al Horford each contributed 11 and nine rebounds as the East-leading Celtics improved to 31-10.
“That shows what type of team we are,” Rozier said of the Celtics’ scoring depth. “From day one we’ve always had that next man up mentality and we’ve kept it going.”
LeBron James led Cleveland with 19 points and added seven rebounds and six assists but the Cavaliers (25-13) had a season-low point total.
“Their defense was very good. They were very in tune to what we wanted to do execution-wise offensively,” James said. “They had a good defensive plan and they executed very well.”
Cavaliers big man Kevin Love injured his right ankle. He had only two points on 1-of-11 shooting.
Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas sat out a night after making his season debut, missing more than two months with a hip injury after being traded from the Celtics in the deal that sent Irving to Boston.
“I don’t know who we are and who we can be until we get it back consistently,” James said. “We haven’t played well as of late so we are trying to figure that out as well. We will be fine, though.”
Thomas exchanged hugs and smiles with his former teammates and when he was shown on the scoreboard videoscreen, Boston fans responded with a standing ovation.
“This is genuine love from both sides,” Thomas said. “The fans are everything here. Boston is definitely in my heart and will always be some type of home for me.”
The Celtics avenged a 102-99 opening-night loss at Cleveland in which Gordon Hayward suffered a broken left ankle in his Boston debut.
DeMar DeRozan scored 35 points to power the Toronto Raptors (26-10) to a 124-115 victory at Chicago while Greek standout Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 10 rebounds in Milwaukee’s 122-101 home romp over Indiana.
– Curry’s 3 wins for Warriors –
Stephen Curry scored 32 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining, and reigning champion Golden State improved to an NBA-best 30-8 with a 125-122 triumph at Dallas.
Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson each added 25 points for the Warriors. Durant had 11 rebounds while Draymond Green contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Paul George and Terrance Ferguson each scored 24 points, Carmelo Anthony added 21 and Russell Westbrook had 20 points and 12 assists to spark Oklahoma City over the host Los Angeles Lakers 133-96.
The Houston Rockets, playing without guard James Harden due to a hamstring injury, had 27 points off the bench from Gerald Green and 21 more from Clint Capela in a 116-98 romp at Orlando.
Bradley Beal scored 27 points while John Wall added 25 and nine assists in Washington’s 121-103 home rout of New York.
– Aussies rule in Sixers’ win –
Australian guard Ben Simmons scored 26 points while Joel Embiid shook off a right hand injury to produce 21 points and 11 rebounds in Philadelphia’s 112-106 home victory over San Antonio.
Aussie reserve guard Patty Mills scored 26 points to lead the Spurs while LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points and 14 rebounds.
Canadian Kelly Olynyk had 25 points and 13 rebounds while Slovenian Goran Dragic added 24 points and 13 assists to lead Miami over visiting Detroit 111-104.
Spencer Dinwiddie, who scored 26 points and passed off nine assists, sank the winning jumper with nine seconds remaining to give Brooklyn a 98-97 victory over Minnesota. Jimmy Butler led the visiting Timberwolves with 30 points but missed a decisive jumper at the final buzzer.
Anthony Davis scored 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to spark New Orleans over host Utah 108-98 while Gary Harris scored 36 points to lead Denver over visiting Phoenix 134-111.