BOSTON (AP) – Isaiah Thomas scored 31 points, including a pair of go-ahead free throws, as the Boston Celtics outlasted LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-99 on Wednesday night.
Boston’s win overshadowed the seventh triple-double of the season for James, who finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Kyrie Irving added 28 points for the Cavaliers, who lost for the first time when leading at any point in the fourth quarter on the road.
The game also marked the third meeting this season between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, and the first win by the Celtics.
Jae Crowder had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, which led by three entering the fourth quarter before there were six ties and 10 lead changes in the final 12 minutes.
It was a 3-point barrage down the stretch, with the Celtics connecting on six straight during one stretch.
Deron Williams, signed by Cleveland earlier this week, scored four points in 24 minutes in his Cavaliers debut.
It was tied at 99 when Thomas connected on a pair of free throws to put Boston in front 101-99. Irving then missed a jumper and Tristan Thompson grabbed the rebound, but Williams then missed from the corner. Crowder got the rebound, was fouled and made his two foul shots to seal it.
Derrick Williams – playing on his second 10-day contract – provided the energy for the Cavaliers early on, scoring 10 points in the first half.
He scored from the outside, got into the teeth of Boston’s interior defense and sped the game up. One of his best highlights came in the second quarter when he blocked Avery Bradley’s jumper, sprinted ahead and received a pass from James for a fast-break dunk.
The Cavaliers dominated the Celtics in their first two matchups in Cleveland this season, averaging 126 points in a pair of wins.
Kevin Love was the catalyst in both of those two victories, scoring 56 points and grabbing 23 rebounds. But he was unavailable Wednesday as he continues to rehab from left knee surgery. Boston took advantage of his absence, getting into the lane and outscoring Cleveland 30-26 in the paint in the first half.
Cavaliers: Outscored the Celtics 50-42 in the paint.
Celtics: Al Horford finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. … Finished 13 of 31 from the 3-point line.
Cavaliers: Continue their three-game road trip Friday at Atlanta.
Celtics: Have two days before beginning a five-game road trip Friday against the Lakers.