J.J. Hickson went 8-of-11 from the field for 21 points, leading the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers to a 95-87 victory over the defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavs, playing for the first time since 2002 without two-time MVP LeBron James on the roster, were able to do something that James' new team -- the Heat -- could not do a night earlier. While James and Co. lost in Boston on opening night Tuesday, Cleveland was able to secure a victory without its former superstar.
The hosts had six players reach double figures in scoring, including Daniel Gibson with 16 and Ramon Sessions with 14. Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Ryan Hollins each had 10 points, while Anderson Varejao provided eight points and 10 rebounds.
Rajon Rondo had 18 points and nine assists to lead the Celtics, who were unable to defeat Cleveland in the Cavs' season opener for the third straight season. Glen Davis contributed with 14 points, while Paul Pierce and Ray Allen had 13 and 12 points, respectively, in defeat.
Kevin Garnett added nine points and 15 rebounds for Boston, which defeated Cleveland in the conference semifinals last season.
The Cavs trailed by five to start the fourth, but a 12-4 spurt to begin the quarter put the home team ahead, 80-77. Gibson had seven points during the stretch, which ended on Antawn Jamison's running jumper with 8:15 left.
Five straight points by the Celtics put Boston ahead, 84-82, on a Pierce jumper with 4:39 to go, but the Cavs scored the next seven points, as a Parker triple with the shot clock winding down provided Cleveland with an 89-84 advantage with 2:27 left.
Allen attempted a game-tying three for Boston as the clock wound below a minute, but was off the mark. Hickson thought he had a basket and a foul on the next Cavs possession, but the referee called a charge with 35.6 ticks remaining.
Pierce missed a pull-up jumper at the other end, and Varejao sank a pair of free throws for a 91-86 lead with 24.4 seconds left. Boston never threatened down the stretch.
Rondo made all four of his shots in the first quarter for nine points, and the Celtics held a 23-21 lead after 12 minutes of play.
Boston began the second quarter on a 7-2 burst to assume a seven-point lead, but Cleveland fought back and moved ahead, 37-35, on a Moon three-pointer with five minutes until halftime.
The Celtics ended the half with five consecutive points to take a 47-46 lead into the locker room.
A quick 6-0 burst in the early portion of the third quarter made it a 55-48 game after consecutive Rondo layups, and a Pierce jumper expanded the lead to 66-65 with 4 1/2 minutes left.
A late 7-0 run by Cleveland cut its deficit to four, and Gibson's running jumper in the closing seconds had the Cavs within 73-68 heading to the fourth.
Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal played for the Cavaliers last season and had seven points and two rebounds against his former team...These teams split four meetings last season...Byron Scott made his debut as head coach in Cleveland...The Cavs had 16 second-chance points, compared to only four for the Celtics.