Cleveland Cavaliers don’t give up, rallies in the fourth quarter to stun Boston Celtics, 91-89

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland Cavaliers are not giving up.

For much of Saturday’s game, it just didn’t feel like their nightmare. But everything changed during a brave, dirty fourth quarter. The Cavs stunned the Boston Celtics, 91-89, for their second win in as many nights.

It didn’t matter that they scored nine points during a weak first quarter. It didn’t matter that Boston led by 19 points in the second half or 12 in the fourth quarter. It didn’t matter that the Cavs shot just 38.3% of the field and 26.3% of a 3-point range. It didn’t matter that Cleveland missed nearly 40 points per game of the usual rotation with Kevin Love, Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton sidelined. It didn’t matter that it was far from their best performance.

These Cavs don’t stop. They fight and discard. They find a way – even when it seems unlikely.

“It was the mental and physical strength,” Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff said. “It’s the bond our kids have built for not wanting to disappoint each other. We continue to talk about chemistry, bonding and belief in each other. It was fully exposed tonight. This is the only way you can explain it. There’s no basketball reason we should have won that game. But there was a collective spirit that refused to allow us to lose that game. “

With four reserves – Ricky Rubio, Denzel Valentine, Dylan Windler and Cedi Osman – along with rookie Evan Mobley, Cleveland opened the fourth quarter in an 11-0 run. An Osman bomb at the 10:03 mark sent a shock through Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse – and cut Boston’s lead to just four. The arena was alive. The Cavs were too.

Moments later, at the 6:43 mark, Cleveland took the lead from the opening minutes. The two teams took turns trading baskets until Darius Garland hit a pair of clutch free throws with nine seconds remaining four two-point margin.

The Cavs have played a lot of tight games this season. They were in that familiar position again, needing only one stop for an unlikely victory.

Cleveland forced the ball away from Jayson Tatum. It was Dennis Schroder one-on-one against Osman who was critical in the second-half rally. Osman punctuated his night by forcing Schroder into a contested baseline jumper who bounced off the edge and caused the arena to go insane. As Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff said earlier this season, something special is being created around town.

“It was definitely a great game,” Osman said. “We fought all the way to the end. That’s the character we’ve been talking about since the beginning of the year. I’m really proud of this team and the way we fought. I know we didn’t play our best basketball, but it was really important to win this game while we played like that. All gave 100 percent tonight. These fans were incredible tonight. They were like our sixth man. A very important victory for us. “

The Cavs outscored the Celtics, 29-15 in the fourth quarter. They forced eight turnovers in those 12 minutes, boosting the defense that has become the calling card of this militant group this season.

Garland led the way. He scored 22 points, including 18 in the first half. Mobley added 19 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, two steals and one assist in a team maximum 40 minutes. The rookie, who is playing with unusual maturity and feeling for the moment, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter. The Cavs repeatedly fed Mobley in a time of crisis.

Rubio, who played 21 of the 24 second-half minutes, finished with 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Jarrett Allen also reached double figures, scoring 11 points.

After Schroder’s failure, the buzzer sounded and the Cavs barked at the central court – a new party this season. The NBA subordinates caught another.

Then

The Cavs will host the Celtics a second time on Monday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

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