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Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010

Cavs crush Celtics

BOSTON (AP) The Celtics were better early, then LeBron James and the Cavaliers blew right by them.

Story of this game.

Story of the season.

James had 36 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, Mo Williams scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Cleveland dominated the second half in a 108-88 victory Thursday night.

Unable to stop Rajon Rondo or the Celtics in the first quarter, the Cavaliers turned up the defense in the fourth, limiting the Celtics to 3-of-21 shooting and snapping a nine-game losing streak in Boston, counting playoffs.

"We haven't had much success here," James said. "We've lost nine times coming into this building. So it gets the monkey off our backs. But don't read too much into it."

James kept Cleveland in it for three quarters on a night it lost Shaquille O'Neal to a first-half thumb injury, then Williams made four 3-pointers when the Cavs outscored Boston 35-14.

"I think in the second half our level of aggressiveness really stepped up on both ends of the floor," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "There was no panic among our guys. We knew 24 minutes was a lot of time. We just started chipping away from it."

Ray Allen scored 21 points, and Rondo had 19 points and 11 assists for the Celtics, who badly missed injured All-Star Paul Pierce (right thumb) when their offense went stagnant in the final 1 1/2 quarters.

"They were a lot more aggressive in the second half. They made adjustments to stop Rondo's penetration," Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said. "We knew it was a real big test. We can't play one half and relax."

Cleveland improved to 20-10 on the road, tying Boston for the best in the NBA, and avenged a 95-89 home loss on opening night.

The Cavaliers outscored the Celtics 60-32 in the second half, allowing just five baskets in the final 17 1/2 minutes.

"When they were scoring that much, it was deflating. Took our wind away," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "We went from being a team with stops and attacking to the team being attacked."

Nuggets 127, Warriors 112

In Oakland, Chauncey Billups had 37 points and nine rebounds, Carmelo Anthony added 27 points and Denver beat Golden State in the Nuggets' first game without coach George Karl since he revealed he has throat cancer.

Karl, who disclosed he has cancer Feb. 16, stayed in Denver to receive treatment but is expected back on the Nuggets' bench Friday night at home against Detroit.

J.R. Smith had 25 points while helping Denver set a season high with 16 3-pointers. Smith and Billups and six 3s apiece.

Stephen Curry had 30 points and 13 assists for the Warriors, who have lost 13 of their last 16 to drop to 16-41.

Bucks 112, Pacers 110

In Indianapolis, John Salmons scored 20 points, and Brandon Jennings had 18 points and seven assists to help Milwaukee win its fifth straight game.

Andrew Bogut added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, 29-28 overall and 3-0 against the Pacers this season. Danny Granger had 21 points for Indiana.

Ilgauskas bought out

WASHINGTON (AP) The Washington Wizards bought out the contract of center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and waived him, the team announced on Thursday.

Ilgauskas, who was acquired from Cleveland on Feb. 17 as part of the three-team trade that sent Antawn Jamison to the Cavaliers, didn't play for Washington. He reported on Feb. 19, took a physical and immediately returned to Cleveland.

The 34-year-old is averaging 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds this season.

"We agreed to terms with Zydrunas on a contract buyout, giving us further financial flexibility and allowing our young big men to continue to develop over the remainder of the season," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said.

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