Irving lifts Cavaliers over Jazz
Kyrie Irving scored 20 points and Cleveland’s All-Star guard made all the big plays down the stretch, rallying the Cavaliers to a 104-101 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
The Cavs trailed 100-92 with less than three minutes left before Irving took over. He scored eight points, made a steal and assisted on Wayne Ellington’s dunk as Cleveland stormed back to stun the Jazz.
Irving added 10 assists in his second game back after missing three with a hyperextended knee. Tristan Thompson had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which trailed by 12 in the fourth.
Gordon Hayward scored 25 and Enes Kanter had 17 for the Jazz, who have lost five of six.
After Ellington’s dunk, Utah’s Mo Williams missed a layup that danced around the rim but wouldn’t drop.
Irving and the Cavaliers were sleepwalking for more than 45 minutes before finally snapping to life.
With Cleveland trailing 100-92, Irving made a gorgeous baseline spin and dropped a short jumper. He then split a pair of free throws and dropped two more to bring the Cavs within 101-97 with 1:40 remaining.
Williams, who returned to Utah’s starting lineup after missing 32 games with a thumb injury, missed a 3-pointer before Irving converted a three-point play to bring Cleveland within one.
On Utah’s next trip, Irving poked the ball away from Hayward, dribbled up the floor and fed Ellington, who finished strong at the rim to make it 102-101. The play sent a shockwave through the crowd at Quicken Loans Arena that had waited all night for something good to happen.
Williams, who spent three seasons with the Cavs, found a lane to the basket but had his potential go-ahead layup make a full trip around the rim without falling. As Ellington was fouled grabbing the rebound, Williams stared at the basket in disbelief.
Ellington’s two free throws made it 104-101, and Williams was short with a 3-pointer in the final second.
It was a crushing loss for the Jazz, who are trying to hold off the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Paul Millsap scored 16 points and Alec Burks 14 for the Jazz.