Irving scores 32 as Cavaliers beat Rockets to stay unbeaten
CLEVELAND (AP) Kyrie Irving scored a season-high 32 points and the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers remained undefeated, beating the Houston Rockets 128-120 on Tuesday night.
Kevin Love scored 24 points while LeBron James added 19 points and 13 rebounds as Cleveland placed six players in double figures. The Cavaliers are 4-0 for the first time in 16 years.
James Harden scored a season-high 41 points and had 15 assists for Houston.
Ryan Anderson’s 3-pointer cut Cleveland’s lead to 114-112 with 2:18 to play, but 3-pointers by James and J.R. Smith and another 3 by Irving with 34 seconds left pushed the margin to 125-116.
The game’s tip-off was moved up an hour to 6 p.m. because the Indians and Cubs were playing Game 6 of the World Series across the street at Progressive Field.
Smith scored 15 points for Cleveland while Mike Dunleavy and Channing Frye had 11 apiece.
Eric Gordon scored 16 points for Houston. Nene added 13 and Anderson had 12.
Irving’s driving layup after a spin move in the lane gave Cleveland a 94-92 lead with 8 minutes to play and began a 13-3 run. Iman Shumpert and Dunleavy hit 3-pointers before Love was fouled shooting a 3 and made all three free throws.
James air-balled a free throw in the second quarter. He was removed from the game later in the period and returned to the locker room for the remainder of the half, but was one of the first players on the court during halftime for warmups.
Rockets guard Trevor Ariza left the game in the third quarter after bumping heads with Tristan Thompson. Ariza was on the court for a moment before walking to the locker room. He returned with a bandage under his right eye.
Houston, which began a five-game trip, opens the season with seven road contests in eight games. The Rockets had won four straight games in Cleveland.
Rockets: Houston committed a backcourt violation when Ariza stepped across the timeline after receiving the opening tip. ... Harden has been playing point guard in place of Patrick Beverley (left knee), who remains out after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 25. ... C Clint Capela made two free throws in the third quarter after missing his first seven attempts of the season.
Cavaliers: Smith hit his 344th 3-pointer, passing Cleveland assistant coach Damon Jones for ninth place on the team’s all-time list. ... Frye returned to the team after missing two games after the death of his mother. ... Cleveland trailed after the opening quarter for the first time in four games.
Rockets: Visit New York on Wednesday. Mike D’Antoni coached the Knicks from 2008-2012, posting a 121-167 regular season record with one playoff appearance.
Cavaliers: Host Boston on Thursday. The Celtics host Chicago on Wednesday.