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Celtics survive defensive tussle

May 07, 2008|From the Associated Press

BOSTON -- LeBron James drove to the basket, the lane surprisingly clear. He reached out toward the rim, rolled the ball off his fingertips . . .

And missed.

James' shots went awry in the final minute, completing one of the worst nights of his career and giving the Boston Celtics a 76-72 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

"This was two heavyweights, just body-punching," said Kevin Garnett, who scored 28 points to lead the Celtics. "There was no finesse, no jabs, just an all-out, beat-down, defensive fight."

Boston held James to 12 points on two-for-18 shooting; only once in his career has he made fewer baskets. He missed three drives and a three-point shot in the final minute, including the potential game-tying finger roll with 8.5 seconds left.

"I missed a lot of shots I know I can make," said James, who scored two points in the second half and missed his last six shots.

Boston's Paul Pierce and Ray Allen struggled too, with Pierce scoring four points on two-for-14 shooting and Allen scoring none for the first time since 1997, missing four shots.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 22 points for the Cavaliers.

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