Irving took over in the second half and finished with 42 points despite playing on a tender ankle, LeBron James added 34 and the Cleveland Cavaliers moved within one win of an nearly inevitable third date in the NBA Finals with Golden State by rallying to beat Boston 112-99 on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
"We needed his pop and his spunk, and I didn't think he would get a fourth foul called on him, but he did", Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.
Before the game was over, James had broken the NBA's all-time playoff scoring list - racking up a career postseason total of 5,995 points and bumping His Airness Michael Jordan down to No. 2.
LeBron scored 34 points, and Kevin love once again dominated inside the three-point line, with 17 points and rebounds apiece.
James left the game with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter with four fouls.
But even with Isaiah Thomas, a Celtics win in the Eastern Conference finals was going to rank as the greatest National Basketball Association upset in memory.
Irving played through a left ankle injury; he rolled it on Celtics guard Terry Rozier's foot in the third quarter following a bucket in transition.
"We have to go in with a bunker mentality that we had in Game 1 and Game 2, to go out and do what we do, but we have to defend", James said. Cleveland is expecting another unflinching effort in Game 5 from a Celtics team that isn't backing down despite facing a 3-1 deficit in the series.
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Arsenal win record 13th FA Cup
Had he been more proactive in January and understood the problems that Arsenal have, this could have been a different season. Aaron Ramsey's late goal earned Arsenal their thirteenth FA Cup triumph at Wembley.
The Celtics pulled off the improbable comeback upset in Game 3 before Kyrie Irving and James combined to bring the defending champions back from 16 points down to win Game 4 Tuesday night.
In a lot of ways the Celtics took the best shot the Cavaliers can take, at least when it is only their big three that is carrying the team.
Look for Cleveland to continue to play better on the road than it does at home. It is not a matter of every single thing having to work in Boston's favor. He got to the basket, we iso'd him at the elbow and got fouls. The third-year guard was supremely confident in his jump shot and it showed, as he hit five out of six threes with a couple coming at crucial points of the game.
While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn't as if the Cavs are a one-man team. In Game 2, he scored 53 points - one shy of John Havlicek's franchise record.
James said he was honored to pass Jordan, his boyhood idol. He was 7-of-7 in the paint in the third quarter alone, numerous hoops coming on his trademark drives and using English and the backboard to get the ball into the hoop.
It will mark the seventh straight trip to the Finals for James, who hit a 3-pointer late in in the third quarter to nudge past Jordan on the playoff scoring list.
Going back to Boston, the Celtics must find a way to maintain a lead. Coach Brad Stevens said no decision had been made yet on whether Thomas would undergo an operation but he reiterated that he is out for the remainder of the playoffs. They're going to challenge us a lot, offensively, defensively, mentally, physically.
"He's been the driving force, this entire playoff run, and all of us have just helped us along the way", Irving said. "You always come around when we lose, I swear".