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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rondo runs circles around sloppy Cavs

CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James better make sure his new MVP trophy isn't missing. The Boston Celtics stole everything else.

Rajon Rondo tied a team playoff record with 19 assists, Ray Allen scored 22 points and the Celtics, playing with renewed confidence and looking dangerous despite their years, opened a 25-point lead in the fourth and then survived Cleveland's comeback for a 104-86 victory on Monday to even their semifinal series at 1-1.

An underdog coming in, the Celtics left town with a split.

"We did everything we set out to do," Allen said. "We've talked all year about closing out games. When we do that, we're pretty good."

After blowing an 11-point lead in the third quarter of Game 1, Boston almost squandered a much bigger one. It led 91-66 with 9:08 left before the Cavaliers, who have been outplayed in both games, scored 15 straight and pulled within 93-83 on James' basket with 3:13 left.

The Celtics, though, closed with an 11-3 spurt and then packed up and headed home for Friday's Game 3 thinking it can oust the hosts.

"They believe," Cleveland's Antawn Jamison said.

James, who seemed to be favoring his injured right elbow, scored 24 and Jamison 16 for Cleveland.

"I'm going to continue to try to be the player I am and not use this elbow as an excuse," James said. "I would never use an injury as an excuse. It's just two games. I understand the burden and the pain Cleveland fans have. I don't feel pressure at all. I'm looking forward to Game 3."

The Celtics seemed in control with their 25-point bulge, but they got complacent and found themselves having to scramble down the stretch when they could have been resting their starters. Boston went nearly six minutes without scoring.

Garnett finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Pierce scored 14.

Rasheed Wallace, called out by Rivers after a lousy opener, added 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting off the bench as the Celtics stripped the Cavaliers of home-court advantage in the series and gave them four days to think about went wrong.

Mo Williams, who scored 20 and led the Cavs' Game 1 comeback, had just four points on 1-of-9 shooting.

Suns 111, Spurs 102

In Phoenix, Steve Nash had 33 points and 10 assists, and the Suns fought off third- and fourth-quarter rallies to beat the Spurs in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series.

Jason Richardson scored 27 and Amare Stoudemire had 23 points and 13 rebounds for Phoenix.

Manu Ginobili scored 27 for San Antonio.

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