BOSTON: The Cavaliers fell behind by 16 points just 6 ½ minutes into Friday’s game and lost 103-86 to the Boston Celtics in another miserable road performance.
Kyrie Irving had 17 points, Dion Waiters had 21 points and Anderson Varejao had 10 points and 12 rebounds, but the Cavs fell behind 18-2 against another Eastern Conference weakling and never recovered. The Celtics shot 61 percent in the first half and carried a 55-39 lead into the locker room. The deficit swelled to 25 in the third quarter.
Irving and Waiters also combined for 10 turnovers and nine assists.
Coach Mike Brown shuffled his lineup again, starting rookie Sergey Karasev at shooting guard while C.J. Miles remains sidelined with a calf injury. It was the seventh different starting lineup in 15 games, but made little difference in a season already circling the drain.
Willing to try anything in search of a spark, Brown tried top pick Anthony Bennett at small forward for an eight-minute stretch in the second quarter. The Cavs had previously said Bennett was strictly a power forward this year, but he was shooting 21 percent there and fell out of Brown’s rotation.
He made his first shot at small forward Friday – a 3-pointer – but it was his only basket of the night and he surrendered nine points to the Celtics’ Jeff Green in a little less than eight minutes. Green scored a season-high 31 points and Jordan Crawford had his second triple-double of the season with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
When Brown reinserted Bennett in the second half, it was back at his more familiar power forward spot.
Brown insisted in recent days he has seen the Cavs make progress, but argued it was difficult to spot while facing the two teams who met in last season’s Finals. Yet against the young and inexperienced Celtics, the Cavs looked like the same team they have been much of the season – particularly offensively. They shot 37 percent, committed 19 turnovers and never led in the rout. The Cavs ended the night with 13 assists, just three more than Crawford had himself.
The Cavs are now 1-9 on the road.