Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Cavaliers 118, Celtics 114 [OT]: Jaylen Brown's near triple-double not enough in third straight loss

The Celtics once again blew a double-digit lead to fall in a 118-114 overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday night at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

Jaylen Brown finished with 32 points on 12-of-26 from the field, 13 rebounds and nine assists, while Malcolm Brogdon added 24 points and five assists off the bench for the C's -- who were playing without Jayson Tatum (ankle), Al Horford (back) and Robert Williams (hamstring).

Derrick White and Marcus Smart (five assists) each chipped in 12 and 11 points respectively, as Boston has lost three straight and are now 45-21 (two games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for first place).

Donovan Mitchell had a game-high 40 points on 14-of-34 shooting and 11 rebounds to lead Cleveland. Evan Mobley recorded a double-double of 25 points, 17 rebounds and Darius Garland also notched 17 points, 12 assists for the Cavaliers -- who won their season series 3-1 against Boston and improved to 41-26 (fourth seed in the East).

The Celtics had a 68-56 advantage at halftime and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the third quarter to go up 92-78 heading into the final frame.

The Cavs started the fourth on a 22-10 run to cut their deficit down to two (102-100) with 2:53 remaining in regulation, before Mitchell made a pair of go-ahead free throws (their first lead since the opening quarter).

White hit a 3-pointer to put the Celtics back in front 109-107 with 15.1 seconds left in the period and Mitchell on a drive to the rim was fouled -- to which coach Joe Mazzulla challenged and was unsuccessful.

Following two more made free throws by Mitchell to tie the game up at 109 and 5.1 ticks on the clock, Pritchard missed a driving layup but Grant Williams (12 points on 4-of-6 from 3) got fouled on the offensive rebound while attempting a put-back.

Williams with 0.8 seconds left -- a chance to win -- missed both free throws and Smart also missed a tip-in as the buzzer sounded.
"It's definitely a little deflating," Brogdon said in his postgame presser. "We were up 10-12 points with three minutes left. We shouldn't have let it get to that point. We shouldn't have to rely on free throws. It's not his fault."
In overtime Brown broke the tie with three made free throws, but Boston only managed to score one field goal the entire extra session, as Cleveland used a 9-2 spurt to put away the Celtics. 

The Cavs pulled off the comeback by outscoring the visiting team 40-22 in the fourth quarter and OT.

Meanwhile, Brown -- who logged in 45 minutes after playing 47 against the Knicks Sunday -- didn't make any excuses for Boston, despite having lost four of their last five.
"There were some key vital plays that we missed, but we can't blame fatigue," said Brown, during his postgame comments. "I wish one of the games had turned into a win. If I've got to play 47 minutes the next game, I'm down with it."
The Celtics, who have played 11 overtime games (4-7) so far have tied a franchise record for the most in a single season (since the 2012-13 campaign), will host the Portland Trail Blazers (31-34) at TD Garden Wednesday night.

Game Notes:

Boston was 41.6% from the field, including 16-of-48 (33.3%) from 3-point territory, while the Cavaliers were 44.8% from the floor and 12-of-34 (35.3%) from long distance. The Celtics were out-rebounded 58-52 and outscored in the paint 58-46. The Cavs dished out 27 assists on 43 baskets and the C's had 25 dimes on 42 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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