- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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AP Photo/Mark Duncan
After spending last year with the Cavaliers, Shaquille O'Neal returned to Cleveland Wednesday.First impressions from afar after the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics 95-87 Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena:
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
J.J. Hickson scored a game-high 21 points for the Cavaliers and produced the go-ahead basket late in the game as Cleveland opened its season by stunning the defending Eastern Conference champs, taking advantage of Boston's weary legs one night after beating this city's old hero, LeBron James and the new-look Miami Heat. Ramon Sessions -- starting in place of Mo Williams -- chipped in 14 points for the hosts, while Rajon Rondo scored a team-high 18 points for Boston. The Celtics' Big Three, so instrumental in Tuesday's season-opening victory, disappeared in the fourth quarter as Cleveland rallied for the win.
The Celtics went more than three minutes without a bucket late in the fourth quarter, opening the door for Cleveland to steal the win. Hickson's layup with 3:09 to play put Cleveland ahead 86-84, and a short time later a controversial 3-pointer by Anthony Parker helped the Cavaliers create enough of a cushion to hold on. Cleveland had only one second on the shot clock, but Parker was able to catch an inbounds pass, swing his arms under a defender and drill the 3-pointer for a five-point lead with 2:27 to go.
STAT OF THE GAME
A familiar problem already, the Celtics committed 19 turnovers, giving the ball away too many times. It didn't hurt them too badly because Cleveland only generated eight points off those giveaways, but that's still a lot of offensive possessions to surrender.
For the second straight night, Glen Davis was absolutely magnificent for Boston, not only by chipping in 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting with five rebounds, but also defensively, taking multiple charges, especially late in the game to at least give Boston a chance, even as the offense disappeared.
WHAT IT MEANS
Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. This one had trap game written all over it and the Celtics stumbled right into it. The Cavaliers were amped to open their season -- without James -- and it showed in some inspired play. Meanwhile, Boston expended a lot of energy and emotion topping the Heat Tuesday night and, leaning on their veteran legs late in the game, the Celtics simply didn't have enough to hang. Boston didn't do itself any favors by not taking control early and some sloppy play helped Cleveland hang around. The Celtics will rest Thursday, then get back to work on the Garden floor Friday night against the Knicks.
13dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford