Published: Sun, January 01, 2017
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Celtics in awe of Isaiah Thomas' 52-point game

"I've got to be better".

Cleveland, which started the game with quarter scoring totals of 32, 34 and 35 points, seemed to take total control in the third period before Boston almost stole a win in the fourth.

"It was insane. I've never witnessed someone with 50 points in a game", Crowder said. "You have to get your rest physically, but I think emotionally you have to stay in that season rhythm". "I was just not concentrating on the game so it's not always about the statistics".

The rotation has worked nicely for Coach Lue, as the Cavaliers have leaned on their Big Three - they're the only squad with a trio all averaging at least 22.0 points - and have won 11 of their last 13 games heading into the final game of 2016. That scoring outburst was propelled by 10 unanswered points to start the second half."You're not going to win many games playing like that", Love said.

James pointed to Thomas' craftiness, ability to get into the paint at will, smooth shooting stroke and knack for commanding the opponent's attention, all things Thomas displayed during Thursday's game against Cleveland where he scored 31 points, including 17 in the second quarter.

With fellow guard Bradley Beal out with a sprained ankle, Wall took over with 19 points and 14 assists for his eighth double-double in nine games.

James also had an uncharacteristic mental gaffe.

"He came to the locker room and the bench and said, 'My fault". Burke was 10-for-12 from the floor, making his first seven shots and scoring 20 points in the first half.

Irving, though, came up with his big baskets and Cleveland had to fend off Boston over the final 53 seconds as its star guard grabbed his right hamstring and went to the bench. "Thomas' 52 points are the most by a player listed at 5'9" or shorter since Houston's Calvin Murphy scored 57 points against the Nets on March 18, 1978.

Thomas scored a team-record 29 points and made six of his nine three-pointers in the fourth to help Boston weather a tough stand from Miami in a closely contested battle down the stretch. And Thomas is proud of his teammates who he knows went out of their way at times to get him the ball as he closed in on the 50-point mark, or simply passed up great looks in order for him to keep shooting. Meanwhile the starting lineup, with Amir Johnson in for Marcus Smart is both their best rebounding lineup (10.2 per game when they're on the court together) and a +21 on the year.

Thomas gave back to military families in Waltham at his Season of Giving event this month, where he played the role of a surrogate Santa and stuck around for a day of games. Over the remainder of the period, the Cavs ran off 13 unanswered points to take a 32-25 advantage heading into quarter number two. "We were able to make enough plays in the end to put them away, but they're a resilient team".

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