Flexing their defensive muscles, the Cavs led 31-9 after the first quarter, opened a 30-point lead in the second and turned a possible playoff preview into a rout. It was Cleveland's most lopsided win in 173 games against the Celtics.
"I looked up at the scoreboard one time and they were shooting 15 percent from the floor," James said. "That's unbelievable. We know we're a good team. It wasn't a message. It was just about getting better."
The Cavaliers outclassed the Celtics, who were missing Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe and have locked up the East's No. 2 seed.
With Cleveland leading by 26 after three periods, James was pulled by coach Mike Brown. When the Cavs' reserves pushed the lead to 30, James, Mo Williams and Delonte West boogied together during a timeout as Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" pumped through the arena. The trio mugged for TV cameras to the roaring crowd's delight.
"I'm always going to remember that," Boston's Ray Allen said. "If I beat a team, as happy as I may be in victory, I'm always going to stay humble and always remember that there's another day. We play each other too much. Those are great motivational thoughts for me."
Said James: "We're not trying to disrespect any team or show up any team. We're all professionals. If you take it as disrespectful, then you got to do something about it."
Cleveland held the Celtics to a season low in points on 36 percent shooting. Paul Pierce scored 14 for Boston.
"Does anybody have a Masters update?" Boston coach Doc Rivers quipped. "Let's not talk about basketball."
Tempers boiled in the third quarter when Cavs forward Anderson Varejao and Allen got tangled under the basket after a free throw. Varejao flung the Boston guard to the floor, and Allen responded with an elbow into the forward's groin area. Both players got technical fouls.
"It was a dirty play," Allen said. "He locked my arm and threw me to the ground. I wasn't going to allow him to think he could do whatever he wanted. It's one thing for a team to be beating us, but they're not going to walk all over us."
"You don't hit a man in his [groin]," Varejao said. "He doesn't like Brazilians or he doesn't like my hair."
In other games:
* At Miami, Dwyane Wade scored 55 points, one shy of the franchise record, and the Heat moved closer to wrapping up the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs by beating the New York Knicks, 122-105. Wade shot 19-for-30 from the field, set a career high with six three-pointers, and nearly topped Glen Rice's record of 56 points before leaving with 1:06 remaining in regulation.
Wade's MVP candidacy is so important to the Heat that the franchise took the step of campaigning for the award. Last week the team sent out a promotional DVD to postseason award voters. Now it's already outdated.
Michael Beasley finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds for Miami, which also got 15 points from Mario Chalmers. Al Harrington and Wilson Chandler each scored 21 points for New York, whose David Lee had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
* At New Orleans, Chris Paul narrowly missed his seventh triple-double of the season, with 31 points, 17 assists and nine rebounds as the Hornets defeated the Dallas Mavericks, 102-92, to move a game ahead of Dallas for the sixth playoff seed in the Western Conference. Each team has two games left.
* At Los Angeles, Andrew Bynum had 18 points as the Lakers cruised past Memphis, 92-75.
* At Sacramento, Michael Finley hit a 25-foot shot with 1 second to play to give the San Antonio Spurs a 95-92 win over the Kings. *