Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Ray Allen went 6-of-9 from three-point range en route to 25 points, and the Boston Celtics used a balanced scoring attack and a strong defensive effort to rout the Cleveland Cavaliers, 120-88, in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Paul Pierce, who had averaged just under 12 points in this series prior to Tuesday, added 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Celtics, who took a 3-2 series lead, with Game 6 slated for Thursday in Boston. Kevin Garnett posted 18 points and six boards, while Rajon Rondo had 16 with seven assists.
"We're a defensive team that can score the ball, and we have to hang our hat on that," Garnett said.
The Celtics, who came into this series as the clear underdog, now stand one game away from facing the Orlando Magic in the conference finals. Boston used its trademark defense to hold Cleveland to 41.2 percent from the field while winning the rebounding battle, 41-31.
"It was team defense," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "I thought our guys -- Rondo, all of them -- they got into their space, they showed help the entire game. Every single guy was in the right spot the entire game, and I thought that was more than one individual. In terms of a group, this was one of our best defensive jobs."
Most notably affected was LeBron James, who ended with just 15 points and didn't record his first field goal until midway through the third quarter. He shot a miserable 3-of-14 from the field and was held under 20 points in a postseason game for the first time since scoring 12 on May 6, 2008 against these same Celtics.
"I think (the Celtics') defense had a bit to do with (my performance) because they're on the court and they're aggressive," James said. "I just missed a lot of shots I'm capable of making. You don't see it out of me a lot, so when you see it, it's a big surprise. I just wasn't able to knock down those shots I was able to get a good look at."
Shaquille O'Neal chipped in with 21 points, but the rest of the Cavs were largely held in check. Anthony Parker had 14 points, but Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams combined to shoot 7-of-18 and had nine points apiece.
The Celtics got off to a sluggish start, with Cleveland grabbing a 13-6 lead after a Parker three-point play midway through the first quarter.
Boston responded, though, using a 12-3 burst to take a two-point lead on a trio of Allen free throws with 3 1/2 minutes left. The Cavs finished the period with seven of nine points to head into the second ahead, 23-20.
Cleveland continued its run with six of the first seven points to begin the second, jumping front by a score of 29-21 after a Williams basket, but the Cavs went cold from there, failing to register a point for over six minutes.
During that stretch, Boston scored 16 straight points; Garnett and Pierce each had six during the run that gave the Celtics a 37-29 advantage with four minutes until halftime.
James, who failed to make a field goal in the entire first half, went 8-for-10 from the line in the second quarter, and the Cavs headed into the locker room trailing, 50-44.
Allen hit back-to-back threes to open up the third and give Boston a 12-point lead, and Rondo hit a pair of buckets around a Garnett layup to give the Celtics a 62-46 advantage 3 1/2 minutes into the second half.
James finally notched his first field goal of the game on a fastbreak dunk with 6:15 showing on the clock, but Boston kept building upon its lead. Following James' basket, the Celtics ripped off eight straight points, with an Allen three providing a 73-52 advantage.
Rondo finished with 12 points in the quarter, and Boston carried a sizeable 80-63 lead into the fourth.
"Tough game. It's a disappointing game," said Cavs head coach Mike Brown. "There was little that we did right throughout the course of the game. We can't dismiss this game. We have to look at it and see what we can do better next game. In Game 6, we'll learn a lot about ourselves, and that's what we have to get ready for."
The Celtics continued to roll in the fourth, beginning the quarter on a 10-3 burst. Glen Davis had all but two of the points for Boston, which held a 90-66 cushion with 9 1/2 minutes to play.
The outcome was never in doubt the rest of the way.
Davis finished with 15 points, while Kendrick Perkins had 10 for Boston...Cleveland suffered its first home Game 5 loss in franchise history when a series is tied, 2-2. It had been 3-0...The Cavs have lost only three of their last 16 home playoff games, although two of those have come in this series...The closest margin of victory in this series has been eight...Boston shot 55 percent from the field.