Irving steps up to carry Cavs

Kyrie Irving took over in the second half and finished with 42 points, LeBron James added 34 and the Cleveland Cavaliers moved within one win of an nearly inevitable third date in the Finals with Golden State by rallying to beat the Boston Celtics 112-99 on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Wine and Gold now stand one win away from a third straight trip to the NBA Finals, but locking up their third win in the series didn't come easy.

James, determined to bounce back after a poor 11-point haul in Game 3, then steadied the Cleveland nerves in the fourth quarter, bringing the Cavaliers home for the win as Boston's fearless effort came up short.

As Lebron went to the bench with 4 fouls midway through the second quarter, Kyrie came alive, scoring 12 points in the remaining 6 and a half minutes in the quarter.

But the Cavs found their footing late in the half and were able to stay within striking distance - trailing by only 10 at intermission.

Cleveland entered the final stanza after a 40-point third quarter.

With Lebron out, Irving scored 33 of his career high 42 points in a commanding performance.

In the fourth, the Cavaliers looked like themselves again.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens knows in order to steal another win, his team has to play nearly ideal basketball.

It is the seventh successive year James has led his team to the finals, with four straight appearances for the Miami Heat preceding his return to Cleveland in 2014.

That's when Irving went off.

"The importance of a Game 4, especially the way we came out in Game 3, you know, in the back of my mind, I was like, I'm saying to myself, 'We can not - they can not tie up this series, ' " Irving said. No sooner had last week's wild draft lottery dropped off the radar of the league's devoted UFO spotters ("Lemme guess: Boston goes first, then Lakers at No. 2?) up popped Game 3 Sunday between the Celtics and Cavaliers".

James recovered from an 11-point, four-of-13 shooting night he endured in Cleveland's stunning Game Three loss.

"They were coming out and hitting us and they didn't care who we are".

"I think he was the difference", Brown said.

Kevin Love had 15 points and 11 rebounds before joining the rest of the Cavaliers starters on the bench for the fourth quarter - a familiar scene in the series.

Avery Bradley paced the Celtics with 19 points while Jae Crowder had 18 points and 8 rebounds.

Led by its Big Three, Cleveland quickly built a 21-point lead in the first quarter, while getting lots of contributions from their teammates.

James corralled the loose ball and got the put-back to fall.

After Love scored back-to-back buckets, Swish drained a bomb to get Cleveland to within three, 69-66.

Freezing Boston defenders with his dribble and driving to the basket whenever he wanted, Irving made six layups, two 3-pointers and a free throw in a dizzying span of 4:48.

By the Numbers - 24.5, 12.8 ...

In this instance, it was Kyrie Irving again, seizing a necessary moment the way he did in Game 5 of the Finals last June (41 points) and particularly in Game 7, hitting a cold-blooded, sidestepping 3-pointer for what proved to be the championship victor.

  • Julie Sanders