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National Basketball Association
Boston 116, Cleveland 106
When: 7:00 PM ET, Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, Ohio
Officials: #19 James Capers, #32 Marat Kogut, #70 Phenizee Ransom
Attendance: 19432

Al Horford broke a fourth-quarter tie with a layup and capped a 14-4 run with an alley-oop slam, helping the visiting Boston Celtics brush aside a challenge from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 116-106 victory Tuesday night.

The win, paired with a later loss by the Detroit Pistons, allowed the Celtics (44-31) to clinch a playoff berth for the fifth year in a row. Boston moved within 1 1/2 games of idle Indiana (45-29) in a duel for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics and Pacers, likely first-round opponents in the upcoming playoffs, have two head-to-heads remaining, including one Friday night at Boston, with home-court advantage in the best-of-seven on the line.

With Friday's showdown in mind, the Celtics elected to give star point guard Kyrie Irving a night off against the Cavaliers, leaving Horford as the go-to man with the game in the balance.

Boston led most of the way, including by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, before the Cavaliers rallied into a tie at 92 on a 3-pointer by Marquese Chriss with 9:10 remaining.

That's when Horford ignited the Celtics' game-winning run, hitting a layup with 8:57 left that put the visitors ahead for good.

He had another hoop and two free throws before capping the burst with his dunk off a Jayson Tatum assist, giving the Celtics a 106-96 lead with just 3:31 to go.

The Cavaliers got no closer than six the rest of the way.

Horford finished with 19 points and a team-high eight rebounds for the Celtics, who snapped a four-game losing streak.

Tatum and Marcus Smart shared team-high scoring honors for Boston with 21 points apiece, while Gordon Hayward added 15, Marcus Morris 14 and Terry Rozier 11 in a balanced attack.

Tatum shot 3-for-5 on 3-pointers, helping Boston gain a 30-27 advantage from beyond the arc.

The Celtics shot 50.5 percent overall and 40.0 percent on 3-pointers for the game.

Rookie Collin Sexton had a game-high 24 points for the Cavaliers, who lost their third straight after a two-game winning streak.

Kevin Love compiled a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double for Cleveland, while Jordan Clarkson chipped in with 18 points, Cedi Osman 15 and Larry Nance Jr. 13 to go with a game-high seven assists.

The Cavaliers shot 48.8 percent overall and 32.1 percent on 3-pointers.

--Field Level Media

Top Game Performances
 
Boston   Cleveland
Marcus Smart 21 Scoring Collin Sexton 24
Al Horford 5 Assists Larry Nance Jr. 7
Al Horford 8 Rebounds Kevin Love 11
Al Horford 5 Free Throws Made Larry Nance Jr. 5
Marcus Smart 3 Steals Jordan Clarkson 1
Aron Baynes 1 Blocks Nik Stauskas 1
Team Stats Summary
 
Team Points FG% 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals Turnovers
Boston 116 50.5 10-25 14-19 23 46 3 8 10
Cleveland 106 48.8 9-28 19-25 24 36 1 4 15
Upcoming Games
  • Cleveland will play their next game on the road against San Antonio. The Cavaliers have a W/L % of .211 after a win and .268 after a loss.
  • Boston will play their next game at home against Indiana. The Celtics have a W/L % of .628 after a win and .531 after a loss.