By Mary Cunningham
LeBron James had a big night but the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers disappeared.
Jaylen Brown scored 23 points and the Boston Celtics withstood James’ 42-point night to beat the Cavs by 107-94 to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Terry Rozier added 18 points, while Al Horford finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Boston improved to 8-0 at home this postseason. The Celtics have never blown a 2-0 series lead in the playoffs.
James had a triple-double, with 12 assists and 10 rebounds to complement his big scoring night. He scored 21 of Cleveland’s 27 points in the first quarter, tying his playoff career high for points in a period. His 42 points marked his fifth 40-point game of this postseason. James had just 15 points and missed all five of his 3-point attempts in Cleveland’s Game 1 loss.
But he did not seem to play with the same force after straining his neck in a first-half collision and the Cavaliers wilted in the second half, with the Celtics outscoring them 59-39. The Cavaliers said James had a neck sprain. He returned after missing less than two minutes of game time.
Kevin Love finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds for Cleveland.
As expected, Tristan Thompson started in place of Kyle Korver in the hopes his presence could energize what was a sluggish Cavaliers offense in Game 1. Thompson got Cleveland’s first basket of the night and helped to limit Horford’s effectiveness on the inside early on.
Korver had 11 points off the bench for Cleveland, but starters Thompson, J.R. Smith and George Hill combined for just 11 points on 5-of-17 shooting.
Tempers flared with 3 minutes 49 seconds to play with Boston leading 97-89. Marcus Morris got in Smith’s face after Smith pushed Horford in the back to prevent a layup. Smith shoved Morris and the pair had to be separated.
Smith was assessed a flagrant foul and both received technical fouls.
Boston’s balanced attack was effective again, with six players reaching double figures. Cleveland had 15 turnovers leading to 13 Boston points. The Celtics turned it over just six times.
Boston led by a score of 84-77 after three quarters and took command late in the fourth with the Cavaliers getting little offense other than from James. Cleveland’s starters were pulled with 1:48 left and the Cavs down 14. They sat more than seven minutes to conclude Game 1.
Game 3 will be played in Cleveland on Saturday.