Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum falls to the ground after missing a shot at the basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had 25 points and 10 rebounds, Jaylen Brown also scored 25 and the Boston Celtics remained undefeated at home with a 120-113 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in NBA action on Tuesday night.

Kristaps Porzingis had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Derrick White added 17 points and Boston held Cleveland scoreless for 2 minutes, 40 seconds in the fourth quarter while finally eliminating the Cavaliers, who had played on the road the night before.

Cleveland came out strong and dominated the first quarter. Boston was unable to pull away until the final minutes.

“It was a good victory, especially given the way we started the game. I could have gone south sooner,” Tatum said. “But we stuck with it and were thankful we only lost 10 points that first quarter.”

Donovan Mitchell had 29 points and Darius Garland scored 26 for the Cavaliers, who couldn't overcome the cold in the fourth quarter. Cleveland was also outscored 45-35 in the opener of a two-game series and was outscored 26-6 at the foul line.

The teams play again on Thursday in Boston.

Max Strus had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Cavs, who set a season-high with 19 3-pointers. Cleveland was coming off a 104-94 loss to Orlando on Monday night, when the Cavs scored just 15 points in the third quarter. Cleveland started strong on Tuesday, opening the game with an 18-4 run, but couldn't keep the momentum going.

“They came out very aggressive and we came out a little less aggressive. They punched first,” said Porzingis, who scored 19 in the second half. “At halftime we were close, but in the second half I felt like we really turned it on.”

Porzingis broke a 106-all tie when he earned back-to-back passes to the line midway through the fourth quarter and made all four free throws, then Tatum pulled back for a 3-pointer that put Boston up 113-106 with 4:26 remaining.

The Cavs hadn't scored since Mitchell's 18-foot jumper with 6:05 left in the fourth to tie it at 106. But Cleveland didn't score again until Jarrett Allen's layup with 3:25 remaining pulled Cleveland within 113-108.

“I think they were more organized offensively. They kind of knew what they wanted to get, and they got it and they made shots,” Cavs swingman Caris LeVert said. “On the other hand, we were a little disorganized, we didn’t necessarily put the ball where we wanted every time and they took advantage.”

Brown opened the second half with a layup, then hit a quick 3-pointer that put Boston up 64-61. Three consecutive 3-pointers from Mitchell put Cleveland back in front and the Cavs continued to lead for much of the third quarter.


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Boston went up again when Tatum hit a 3-pointer for an 86-84 lead and Boston went up 94-92 in the fourth quarter but couldn't pull far away.

Mitchell was called for a technical after complaining about an out-of-bounds call with 2:18 left in the second quarter. Tatum's free throw tied it at 57, then a Brown layup put Boston up 59-57 for the Celtics' first lead of the game.



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