CLEVELAND (AP)—Kyrie Irving sees everything on the court—while also keeping an eye on the standings.
Cleveland’s star rookie scored 16 of his 21 points in the final 4:14 of the fourth quarter Sunday night as the Cavaliers rallied for a 118-107 win over the Houston Rockets.
The Cavaliers, coming off impressive road victories over Denver and Oklahoma City, have moved back into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference with three straight wins. And Irving, the No. 1 pick in the draft, knows exactly what’s going on there.
“You have to pay attention to the standings,” he said. “I’m aware we’re a game out of the eighth spot.”
Antawn Jamison scored 28 points and Cleveland had six players in double figures in winning its third straight game for the first time this season. The Cavaliers also recorded a season high in points.
Cleveland’s latest victory, which also ended a four-game home losing streak, moved the Cavaliers within one game of New York for the final playoff spot in the East. The teams are tied in the loss column.
“I sit and look at it all the time,” Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. “I know the teams in front of us and what they’re doing, I know the team that’s right behind us. So I know we have a golden opportunity.”
While the Cavaliers are positioning themselves to have a shot at the playoffs, the Rockets are sinking in the Western Conference. Houston has lost six of seven and slipped to eighth place.
“This is a bad part of the year for us,” said forward Luis Scola, who scored a season-high 30 points. “We’re struggling. We’re not playing the right way. We don’t have confidence and things aren’t working out our way.”
Goran Dragic scored 20 points for Houston, and Chase Budinger added 16 off the bench. Kevin Martin, the Rockets’ leading scorer with 17.4 points per game, was held to three points in 15 minutes and also sustained a strained shoulder.
Houston played without starting guard Kyle Lowry, who remains in a New York-area hospital with an illness. A team spokesman said before the game there is no timetable for when Lowry, who is averaging 15.9 points and 7.2 assists, will rejoin the Rockets.
While Jamison led the way by going 8 for 16 from the field, Irving again took over down the stretch. He orchestrated a decisive run in the final 3 minutes when Cleveland snapped Oklahoma City’s 14-game home winning streak Friday night.
In Sunday night’s fourth quarter, Irving hit three of four shots, including a 3-pointer, and was perfect from the line in nine attempts. Cleveland scored 37 points in the period while erasing a three-point deficit. Ramon Sessions scored 15 points, and Alonzo Gee, Daniel Gibson and Samardo Samuels added 11 apiece.
“When it comes to the fourth quarter, I’m like, `Here comes The Kyrie Show.’ He’s an unbelievable talent,” Samuels said.
Irving scored five points on 2-for-11 shooting in his first 24 minutes on the floor.
“It’s tough, but you have to push through it,” he said. “You have to do other things to help your team.”
The Cavaliers took control early in the fourth quarter as Sessions and Omri Casspi hit 3-pointers to help Cleveland take a 93-86 lead with 8:36 to play. Irving’s three-point play pushed the lead to 101-93 with 4:14 remaining. He added 13 additional points and had a team-high six rebounds as the Cavaliers pulled away. Irving was also 10 for 10 from the foul line.
Cleveland built a 46-35 lead midway through the second quarter before Houston rallied. Dragic scored 11 points and Budinger added eight in the period to help Houston take a 57-54 lead at the half. Cleveland went ahead 66-61, but Houston regained control and took a 73-67 advantage.
Houston broke a season-high five-game losing streak with a victory in New Jersey on Saturday, but couldn’t sustain the momentum. The Rockets finish a five-game road trip in Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
“The start of the fourth quarter doomed us,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “We never could get our momentum back. They made some shots, but our defense was very porous.”
Following the game, the Cavaliers allowed the second 10-day contract of reserve guard Manny Harris to expire.
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