Warriors

Revamped Cavs crush Celtics in first game all together

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USATSI

Revamped Cavs crush Celtics in first game all together

BOX SCORE

BOSTON — LeBron James quieted a Celtics crowd that came to celebrate Paul Pierce on Sunday, scoring 24 points with 10 assists and eight rebounds to give new-look Cleveland a 121-99 victory over Boston in an individual performance reminiscent of the rivalry’s heyday.

And this time, Pierce was sitting courtside in street clothes, unable to do anything about it.

James shook off a first-quarter leg injury to score 13 in the second quarter — eight of them during a 13-2 run that turned a one-point deficit into a double-digit lead. The Celtics made it 64-55 on the first basket of the third quarter but never got within 10 again.

As the Cavaliers opened a 27-point lead midway through the fourth, the crowd began chanting “We want Paul Pierce!” But he remained in his baseline seat, awaiting the postgame ceremony that would raise his No. 34 to the TD Garden rafters — the 23rd person in the history of the NBA’s most-decorated franchise to be so honored.

The current Celtics, who have spent much of the season in first place in the East, could have used him.

Terry Rozier scored 21 with nine assists and Kyrie Irving scored 18 against his former team before sitting out the fourth quarter as the game became a blowout. The Celtics have lost three of four to fall behind Toronto in the Eastern Conference playoff race; the Cavaliers, who have won three straight, are 5½ games behind Boston.

In their first appearances for Cleveland since being acquired at the trade deadline, Jordan Clarkson scored 17 and George Hill had 12 points.

Pierce watched the game from a baseline seat, under the basket where the Celtics scored 42 points in the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the finals to clinch their 17th NBA championship. On the other side of the basket were former coach Doc Rivers and former teammates Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Antoine Walker.

Timeouts featured tribute videos from Rivers, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Pierce’s college coach, Roy Williams.

JAMES INJURY

James banged into Aron Baynes in the lane with about five minutes left in the first quarter and hobbled off the court, favoring his right leg. He came back in with nine minutes left in the half and hit a jumper to tie it 40-all before his outburst that helped the Cavs pull away.

He sat out the fourth quarter, losing the chance for an 11th triple-double this season, and third straight.

IT SUPPORT

The trades mooted a mini controversy over whether the Celtics would honor Isaiah Thomas in his return to Boston. A fan favorite during his two-plus seasons in green, Thomas was traded last summer in the deal that brought Irving to the Celtics.

Thomas balked at being recognized on his first visit back with the Cavaliers because he was injured. And Pierce balked at sharing the stage with him on Sunday, Cleveland’s only other trip to Boston.

But Thomas was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers at the deadline, meaning he isn’t scheduled to return to TD Garden this year.

SMART UPDATE

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Marcus Smart continues to recover from a lacerated right hand, which has kept him out since he cut his hand on broken glass at the team hotel on Jan. 24 and needed stitches to close the wound.

“Not going to expect to see him on Wednesday night,” Stevens said. “Hopeful that he will be back and ready to go after the All-Star break. But we’ll see.”

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: At Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Celtics: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

Andre Iguodala's status upgraded prior to Game 4 vs Rockets

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AP

Andre Iguodala's status upgraded prior to Game 4 vs Rockets

OAKLAND -- Already bracing for a difficult test Tuesday night when they meet the Rockets in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors may be forced to make yet another lineup change in their effort to take a commanding 3-1 lead.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus begins at 4 p.m. with Warriors Outsiders, with tipoff at Oracle Arena scheduled for 6 p.m. Pacific.

The Warriors have utilized four different starting lineups this postseason, and a fifth might be needed. It’s possible that Andre Iguodala, who has started 12 of 13 games, including the last five in a row, won’t be available.

Iguodala's status has improved, however, to questionable. He was listed as doubtful on Monday.

[RELATED: Warriors brief: Why Jordan Bell is a candidate to start in place of Andre Iguodala]

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 8.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. James Harden: They won’t be assigned to each other, but no two players are more likely to dictate the outcome of this game. Each has experienced moments both shining and forgettable. Once the Warriors established a lead in Game 3, Curry got behind the wheel and floored it, resulting in a rout. Houston needs a Harden takeover game. Is he up to it?

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Andre Iguodala (L lateral leg contusion) is listed as questionable. G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) is listed as out.

Rockets: No injuries listed.

GAME OFFICIALS

Mike Callahan, Kane Fitzgerald, Derrick Stafford, Sean Wright (alternate)

THE TALLY

Game 1: Warriors 119, Rockets 106 at Houston Game 2: Rockets 127, Warriors 105 at Houston Game 3: Warriors 126, Rockets 85 at Oakland

ROAD TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS

Warriors: Defeated San Antonio in five games in the first round, defeated New Orleans in five games in the conference semifinals.

Rockets: Defeated Minnesota in five games in the first round, defeated Utah in five games in the conference semifinals.

SERIES HISTORY

The teams met three times in the regular season, with Houston posting a 122-121 win on Oct. 17 at Oakland, the Warriors taking a 124-114 victory on Jan. 4 at Houston and the Rockets prevailing, 116-108, on Jan. 20 in Houston. The Warriors have won 12 of the last 15 meetings in the regular season.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE LINEUP: If Iguodala is out, the Warriors have three viable options. Going with Kevon Looney at center seems most likely, but it’s possible Nick Young will make his third start of the postseason. The third option is Jordan Bell, who is inexperienced but the best physical matchup with Rockets big man Clint Capela.

THE START: When the Warriors went ahead late in the first quarter of Game 3, with the crowd roaring at ear-splitting levels, the Rockets cracked a little more each minute. Down nine after one quarter, they never got closer than seven after that. The second half score, 72-42, is indicative of a team that lost its resolve.

WARRIORS D: The Warriors were disciplined in Game 3, during which their defense alternated from sound to terrific. They forced 20 turnovers and limited Houston’s top three scorers to 16-of-45 shooting from the field, including 6-of-22 from beyond the arc. Similar success would practically assure a victory.

Jordan Bell receives votes for All-Rookie team

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AP

Jordan Bell receives votes for All-Rookie team

The All-Rookie teams were announced on Tuesday morning, and Jordan Bell received some love...

... but just a little.

The 38th pick in the 2017 draft got five All-Rookie Second Team votes.

From the beginning of the season though the Warriors' matchup vs the Cavs on MLK Day, Bell appeared in 37 of 45 games and made 10 starts.

[RELATED: Warriors brief: Why Jordan Bell is a candidate to start in place of Andre Iguodala]

He averaged 5.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and 0.7 steals in 14.8 minutes per contest over that stretch.

Some of his best performances:

-Nov. 24 vs Bulls -- 7 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 blocks, 2 steals
-Dec. 1 at Magic -- 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, steal
-Dec. 14 vs Mavs -- 8 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals
-Dec. 22 vs Lakers -- 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block
-Dec. 27 vs Jazz -- 5 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, steal

On Jan. 17 in Chicago, he suffered a bad left ankle sprain and missed the next 14 games.

Bell appeared in 19 of Golden State's final 22 games (2 starters), averaging 3.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 blocks and 0.5 steals in 13.8 minutes.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller