Rozier’s perfect start, 26 points carry Celtics past Cavs

BOSTON (AP) — Terry Rozier scored 22 of his 26 points in the first half and the Boston Celtics coasted to their fifth straight victory with a 125-103 win over the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

Jaylen Brown scored 23 points, Gordon Hayward 18 and Jayson Tatum 17 for Boston, which won its 10th straight at home. Rozier, who added eight rebounds and six assists, started in place of the ill Kyrie Irving and shot 6 for 6 and scored 16 points in the opening quarter. He made his only two shots in the second — both 3-pointers — including a 31-foot buzzer-beater from the top of the key that gave Boston a 65-50 halftime lead.

Irving was sidelined with flulike symptoms, and Boston was also without Al Horford, who was given the night off to rest. Horford had missed seven games in December with a sore left knee before they built his minutes back up.

Cedi Osman led the Cavaliers with 25 points and eight rebounds, and Ante Zizic had 19 points with eight boards. Cleveland has lost five in a row and 17 of its last 18.

The Cavaliers might have been in town, but a good number of fans at TD Garden might have been looking ahead to Saturday’s home showdown with defending champion Golden State. It was relatively quiet until Boston took charge with a 27-11 run to close the second quarter, pushing its lead from two to 15 at the half.

Marcus Smart started the spree, hitting a 3-pointer — one of five the Celtics had in the run. Rozier had two, the last coming just before the buzzer, bringing the crowd to its feet.

In the second half, Robert Williams’ basket pushed Boston’s lead to 86-67 late in the third quarter. It was 12 points entering the final quarter and early garbage time after the Celtics opened the fourth by scoring the first seven points.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: They were missing a few veteran players: Kevin Love (surgery, left foot), Larry Nance Jr. (sprained right knee), Tristan Thompson (left foot soreness) were not with the team. … Fell to 4-22 on the road.

Celtics: Coach Brad Stevens said his team has gotten a boost from Aron Baynes, who started for Horford. “His spirit is felt,” Stevens said before the game. “You can feel it in practice, you can feel it just around the gym.” The 6-foot-10 center played in his fifth game after missing the previous 13 with a broken left finger. … Improved to 19-5 at home.

STEPPIN RIGHT IN

Rozier was the first Celtics player to score 20 or more points in a half on perfect shooting since Paul Pierce went 7 for 7 and had 20 in the second half against Chicago on Oct. 30, 2009, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Last season, the 6-foot-1 guard was a spark in Boston’s run the Eastern Conference finals, averaging 16.5 points per game when Irving was lost before the playoffs with a knee injury, earning him the nickname “Scary Terry.”

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: Host the Heat on Friday.

Celtics: Host the Warriors in a nationally televised matchup Saturday night.

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