Posted March 06, 2013 on
AP on Fox
Los Angeles Lakers
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.
Utah coach Tyrone Corbin benched starting forward Marvin Williams for DeMarre Carroll, hoping it would spark Utah's first unit. But Carroll scored just four points and the Jazz reserves outscored the starters 56-45.
Randy Foye scored 11 points in the third quarter, when the Jazz went on a 16-3 run to open a 71-58 lead.
With Utah leading 57-55, Foye drained a 3-pointer and Utah's team leader from long range hit two more 3s as the Jazz pushed their lead to 74-60.
The Cavaliers were only missing two players with the flu, but they all appeared under the weather.
Cleveland lacked energy, but a dunk by Alonzo Gee in the final second of the quarter seemed to ignite the Cavs. But they fell behind 88-76, when Irving came back into the game with 7:26 left.
The Cavs were without starting rookie guard Dion Waiters, who missed his second straight game with a 48-hour flu bug that has flattened a few teammates. Daniel Gibson also sat out with nasty stomach virus, which sidelined Tyler Zeller for one day and caused him to lose five pounds.
Hayward scored 15 points in the second quarter, helping the Jazz open a 51-49 halftime lead.
After going scoreless in the first and missing his only shot, Hayward misfired three more times to start the second before finding his range. He drained a 3-pointer to put the Jazz ahead 40-39, and dunked twice while scoring 12 of Utah's final 15 points over the last 5:15 of the period.
Cavs coach Byron Scott was leery of Utah's size and aggressiveness. The Jazz averaged 59 rebounds - 23 offensive - in their past two games and Scott joked after the morning shootaround that Cleveland's big men needed to be prepared for a physical game.
''I hope our guys go home and eat a lot of Tabasco sauce and gun powder,'' he said. ''You've got to be mean and tough tonight.''
The Cavs more than held their own, outrebounding the Jazz 49-38.
NOTES: Mo Williams received a nice ovation from the Cleveland crowd during pregame introductions. Williams played for the Cavs from 2009-11. ... Corbin said there was no timetable on Jefferson, who rolled his ankle last week in a loss to Atlanta. ... Scott said Waiters came in earlier in the day to be checked by team doctors and was feeling better. ... The Jazz continue their trip on Friday at Chicago and then play in New York on Sunday. ... Irving is the ninth player in NBA history to surpass 2,000 career points before turning 21. Irving's birthday is March 23.
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