Celtics gatecrash LeBron’s party to tie up series

CLEVELAND, (Reuters) – The Boston Celtics gatecrashed  LeBron James’s celebration party by tying up the best-of-seven  Eastern Conference semi-finals series against the Cleveland  Cavaliers with a resounding 104-86 road victory on Monday.

On the night James was presented with the league MVP  trophy, the Celtics stole the spotlight with a big  third-quarter run then survived a late rally to send the series  back to Boston tied at 1-1.

Over in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns held off  the San Antonio Spurs in a 111-102 home victory in the opener  of their best-of-seven series lead.

In Cleveland, Rajon Rondo recorded 13 points and 19  assists, and Ray Allen had a team-high 22 points to allow  Boston to rebound from a Game One defeat.

After controlling the early stages but fading late in the  series opening loss Saturday, the Celtics turned the tables  this with a 31-12 scoring advantage in the third quarter that  put the visitors ahead by 23.

Cleveland created a few nervous moments by pulling within  10 in the fourth before being turned back.

“We were playing the clock instead of the game,” Rondo told  reporters of his team’s blown lead.

“We got stagnant, we kept looking at the clock and we were  hoping it would run out. It’s important we come out in Game  Three and do the things we did but close the game out.”

ELBOW PROBLEMS

James finished with 24 points but was bothered by the  nagging right elbow injury that appears to be tempering his  aggressiveness.

James did not receive much help from his supporting cast as  Mo Williams went 1-for-9 with four points and the Cavs shot  just 40 percent from the field.

Boston, on the other hand, got complete balance as all five  starters posted double-figures scoring.

Kevin Garnett put up 18 points and 10 rebounds while  reserve Rasheed Wallace stepped up with 17 points after being  called out by his coach for poor play following Game One.

In Arizona, Steve Nash had 33 and 10 assists while Jason  Richardson put up 27, including a three-pointer with 1:23 left,  to push the Suns lead up to eight.

The Spurs had earlier trimmed a 14-point deficit down to  one with under five minutes to play but could not complete the  comeback after trailing for most of the whole game.

Manu Ginobili had a team-high 27 while Tony Parker gave  Phoenix problems with his speed and finished with 26.

“They really hurt us and we have to find a way to slow  Parker and Ginobili in the next game,” Richardson said.

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