Rondo's 19 assists lift Celtics over Cavs 104-86

09:21, May 05, 2010      

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Cleveland's LeBron James (23) and Shaquille O'Neal defend a shot by Boston's Paul Pierce (34) during Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals in Cleveland on Monday. The Celtics won 104-86 to even the series 1-1. Tony Dejak / Reuters

LeBron James better make sure his new MVP trophy isn't missing. The Boston Celtics stole everything else.

Rajon Rondo tied a team playoff record with 19 assists, Ray Allen scored 22 points and the Celtics, playing with renewed confidence and looking very dangerous despite their years, opened a 25-point lead in the fourth and then survived Cleveland's comeback for a 104-86 victory on Monday night to even their semifinal series at 1-1.

An underdog coming in, the Celtics left town with a split.

"We did everything we set out to do," Allen said. "We've talked all year about closing out games. When we do that, we're pretty good."

After blowing an 11-point lead in the third quarter of Game 1, the Celtics almost squandered a much bigger one. They led 91-66 with 9:08 left before the Cavaliers, who have been outplayed in both games, scored 15 straight and pulled within 93-83 on James' basket with 3:13 left.

Boston, though, closed with an 11-3 spurt and then packed up and headed home for Friday's Game 3 thinking they can oust the Cavs.

"They believe," Cleveland's Antawn Jamison said.

James, who seemed to be favoring his injured right elbow, scored 24 and Jamison 16 for Cleveland, outscored 31-12 in the third.

"I'm going to continue to try to be the player I am and not use this elbow as an excuse," James said. "I'd never use an injury as an excuse. It's just two games. I understand the burden and the pain Cleveland fans have. I don't feel pressure at all. I'm looking forward to Game 3."

The Celtics seemed in control with their 25-point bulge but they got complacent and found themselves having to scramble down the stretch when they could have been resting their starters. Boston went nearly six minutes without scoring.

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(Editor:intern1)

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