CLEVELAND (AP) For more than 40 minutes, the Cavaliers were lifeless and lost. Kyrie Irving snapped his teammates out of their funk just in time. Irving scored 20 points, 11 in the last 4:21, and Cleveland's All-Star guard made all the big plays down the stretch, rallying the Cavs to a 104-101 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
Cleveland trailed 100-92 with less than three minutes left before Irving, the soon-to-be 21-year-old with a maturing game, took over. He scored eight points, grabbed two rebounds, made a steal and had the assist on Wayne Ellington's go-ahead dunk with 56 seconds left as Cleveland stormed back and stunned the Jazz. "Merry Christmas to us,'' Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "We got lucky. That was a gift, basically.''
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 the Cavs, who trailed by 12 in the fourth and appeared to be going through the motions for more than three quarters.
"The last 15 minutes is when we started playing,'' Scott said. "With 15 minutes left, I told them, "Right now, you're showing no interest in this game. You better start playing these last 15 minutes.' Up until that time, I didn't see any interest.'' Gordon Hayward scored 25 and Enes Kanter had 17 for the Jazz, who have lost five of six.
After Ellington's dunk made it 102-101, Utah's Mo Williams missed a layup that danced around the rim but wouldn't drop. "I've never seen a layup come out like that,'' said Williams, returning to the lineup after missing Utah's previous 32 games with a thumb injury. "That was amazing. I've never, ever seen anything like that. I don't think I've ever missed a layup, even in practice. "I've shot a trillion layups in my life. I've never missed one like that.''
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. Williams 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 put the Cavs ahead by one. 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. "I saw a lane and attacked,'' Williams said. "I was able to get a crack and get to the rim. I didn't have to put any English on it. I didn't have to spin it. It was a normal layup. I'm dumbfounded.'' 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, which lost in overtime at Milwaukee on Monday. Utah played its third straight game without starting forward Al Jefferson, who has a sprained left ankle. "These are tough losses,''
Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "You don't want to minimize that. They are games we felt we should have won. Closing games down, especially without Al out there, we're so used to going to him to close the games for us and he's not there. "We've got to find a way to get better.''
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. Williams did not score in 14 minutes. Randy Foye scored 11 points in the third quarter, when the Jazz went on a 16-3 run to open a 71-58 lead.
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 returned with 7:26 left. Shortly after that, he was bringing them back to an unexpected win. "Absolutely we did (steal this win),'' Irving said.
"But the one thing I can say is we did get stops at the end. Our defense led to a couple of turnovers and baskets. I've got to be a leader out there, and it starts on the defensive end. Now that I'm preaching it, I've got to do it.'' The Cavs were without starting rookie guard Dion Waiters, who missed his second straight game with a flu bug that has flattened a few teammates. Daniel Gibson also sat out with nasty stomach virus, which sidelined Tyler Zeller for one game.
NOTES: Hayward scored 15 points in the second quarter, helping the Jazz open a 51-49 halftime lead. ... The Cavs had a season-high 12 blocks. ... Corbin said there was no timetable on Jefferson, who rolled his ankle last week in a loss to Atlanta. ... Irving is the ninth player in NBA history to surpass 2,000 career points before turning 21. Irving's birthday is March 23.
CLEVELAND (AP) Carmelo Anthony tripped, stumbled and fell. The New York Knicks picked themselves up and won without him. Amare Stoudemire scored 22 points, J.R. Smith added 18 and the Knicks overcame a 22-point deficit and the loss of Anthony, their All-Star forward who went out with a knee injury in the first half, to beat the Cavaliers 102-97 on Monday night and end a 10-game losing streak in Cleveland.
Steve Novak made three of New York's seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and added 15 points as the Knicks, sparked by their second unit, shook off a tough home loss on Sunday, when they blew a 16-point lead to Miami. The Knicks trailed 52-30 in the second quarter when Anthony got twisted up after catching a pass near midcourt and dropped to the floor.
Following the game, Anthony said the knee has been bothering him for several weeks. "It's just sore, not pain, sore and stiffness,'' Anthony said in a crowded corridor outside New York's locker room. "It's been going on for a while now.'' Anthony, who entered the game tied with Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant for the NBA scoring lead, said he underwent an MRI "a couple days ago.''
He said the test results were negative, and he does not yet know if he'll be able to play Wednesday night when the Knicks visit Detroit. "Today I just woke up and you know how some days you really don't feel right,'' he said. "I came out here and I tried to warm up and I thought it was going to loosen up before the game, but some of the things that I was doing I felt like I was dragging it.''
Kyrie Irving scored 22 points in his first game back after missing Cleveland's past three with a hyperextended right knee. Irving added six assists and five rebounds in 36 minutes. After New York's Jason Kidd split a pair of free throws with 6 seconds left, the Cavaliers had a chance to tie it.
Coach Byron Scott put the ball in the hands of Irving, who scored a career-high 41 against the Knicks on Dec. 15. The dazzling point guard couldn't beat Tyson Chandler off the dribble and then had his 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left blocked cleanly by New York's 7-foot-1 center. "I knew they were going to him,'' Chandler said.
"I knew if I got switched on him I would force him to drive. He went for the 3-point shot and I kind of baited him into shooting where I could still get to the shot.'' Smith was fouled and made two free throws in the final second to close out a win the Knicks needed badly.
They are just 18-16 after opening the season 18-5. New York's bench outscored the Knicks starters 70-32. Knicks coach Mike Woodson sat Stoudemire for the final eight minutes on Sunday, prompting some serious second-guessing by New York's fans and media.
Before facing the Cavs, Woodson said he would use Stoudemire when the matchups were right and the occasion called for the power forward. With Anthony out, Woodson needed every second he could get out of Stoudemire, who powered inside for a critical putback with 39.5 seconds left to put the Knicks ahead 99-95. "I've been a competitor my whole career,'' Stoudemire said. "I've had a lot of success in this league so far. I know how the game is played. Whenever my number's called I'll be ready and tonight I was ready.'
' Irving responded for the Cavs with a left-handed layup, but on New York's next trip, Chandler did a nice job tapping out a miss by Stoudemire and Cleveland had to foul Kidd, who couldn't close it out at the line and the Knicks had to turn to their defense to complete the comeback. The Knicks were down by 22 and looking pathetic when Anthony caught a pass from Kidd near midcourt, tripped over his own feet and hit the deck. He stayed on his back for several seconds, got up and without talking to New York's trainers headed directly to the locker room.
Anthony didn't appear to be injured and seemed to be more embarrassed than anything. With Anthony out and icing his knee, the Knicks went on a 17-4 run and closed within 61-49 at halftime - not bad, considering how poorly they had played. "I was about ready to leave the arena,'' Woodson said. "We couldn't get any stops. It was awful. I thought maybe we were tired or we were drained.''
Woodson started Stoudemire and Smith in the second half and the Knicks opened the third with a 15-3 spurt, catching the Cavs at 64-all. The Cavs were without rookie starters Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller, who were both stricken with a nasty stomach virus over the weekend. They were taken to the hospital to get fluids, but were resting at home during the game.
Cleveland's Marreese Speights made his first 10 shots and finished with 23 points. Luke Walton added a career-high 12 assists for the Cavs, who were in control but wound up losing at home to the Knicks for the first time since 2006. "We're not that good yet to be able to turn that switch on and off,''
C.J. Miles said. "We've got to play that way all the time. We've got to play hard all the time. There's talent on the team, but there's not enough years to go with the talent. You live and learn, but we should have learned by now.''
NOTES: It was New York's first win when trailing by at least 20 since Dec. 18, 2009 vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. ... Anthony had six points and three turnovers before he got hurt. ... Knicks C Marcus Camby played for the first time since Jan. 10. He had been sidelined with plantar fasciitis. ...
Former Knicks sartorial star Walt "Clyde'' Frazier received a nice ovation when he was shown on the arena's scoreboard. Frazier played 66 games for Cleveland in the 1970s after he was traded by New York. ... According to Forbes, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is worth $3.5 billion. In the magazine's annual ranking of the world's billionaires, Gilbert is 348th. He has added more than $1.5 billion to his net worth since September - and $2 billion over the last year. Gilbert controls about 40 companies.
The Atlantic Division-leading New York Knicks haven't managed to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road in over six years, and Carmelo Anthony hasn't been much help, either.
The possible return of Kyrie Irving may keep it that way Monday night when Anthony and the Knicks make their first of two visits this season.
New York (35-21) has won four of the last six meetings with Cleveland (20-39), but all of those victories have come at home. The Knicks have been held to an average of 93.0 points while dropping 10 in a row at Quicken Loans Arena since last winning there Nov. 29, 2006.
Anthony hasn't been much of a factor in three visits with the Knicks, averaging 18.0 points on 38.8 percent shooting there compared to 22.0 while shooting 50.0 percent in playing three of the four home wins. He sat out New York's 103-102 home win on Dec. 15 due to a sprained left ankle and had only 12 points on 5 for 13 shooting in a 98-90 defeat in the most recent game in Cleveland on April 20.
The superstar forward and the Knicks may be in for another tough matchup if Irving can return from a hyperextended right knee that has sidelined him for three games.
The guard has averaged 28.0 points over his last three meetings against them and scored a career-high 41 in that December loss.
"We will see how he feels, but from what I saw (at practice Sunday) he looked good," coach Byron Scott said. "Obviously, he could have probably continued to play ... but we just didn't see no reason why. Just try to let him have as much time as he needs to get that thing completely healed, so it's not something that continues to flare up during the rest of the season."
Scott's patience with Irving's injury may have been challenged following Friday's 105-89 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers after Cleveland averaged 102.0 points winning the previous two games without him.
Irving leads the Cavs with 23.3 points per game and 5.6 assists, but he's averaged 17.5 over the last four games despite a 35-point effort in a 105-100 win over New Orleans on Feb. 20.
Dion Waiters is looking to continue his strong stretch, averaging 22.8 points while shooting 56.7 percent in four games. The rookie missed the last meeting with the Knicks due a sore ankle.
New York squandered a 16-point lead while matching its season high with 18 turnovers as a three-game winning streak ended with Sunday's 99-93 home defeat to Miami.
"I think we are disappointed because we had an opportunity to win a ballgame here at home against the champs," said guard Jason Kidd, who had 14 points in his second game off the bench after losing his starting job. "So it's something we can look at and get better at with those mistakes, especially later in the game."
Anthony did his part against the Heat, scoring 32 points, and has averaged 31.6 over the past five games.
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7p tip. WTAM 1100
CLEVELAND (AP) Jamal Crawford eyes the 3-point line and sees something else - four points. Crawford scored 24 points, converting a four-point play and making another 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, and Chris Paul had 15 assists as the Los Angeles Clippers finally switched on the after-burners in the final minutes and beat the Cavaliers 105-89 on Friday night for their first win in Cleveland since 2002.
The Clippers had lost 10 straight at Quicken Loans Arena, but sparked by Crawford's 37th career four-point play, pushed aside the Cavs for their fourth win in a row.
"The hardest part of that is making the free throw, honestly,'' Crawford said. "There's so much pressure on that free throw, you better make it.'' With Los Angeles leading by 11 and unable to shake off the Cavs, Crawford converted his four-point play, something he says "is not by accident.''
Never one to pass up a shot - whether he's open or not - Crawford was fouled by Cavs center Marresse Speights while knocking down a high-arching 3-pointer from the deep corner with 9:51 left. He calmly made the free throw, giving the Clippers an 85-70 lead and extending his NBA record for the quirky play. It sent a much-needed jolt through the Clippers, who were understandably sluggish after playing at Indiana on Thursday night. "That was huge,'' Paul said.
"They're always so timely. He just makes big shot after big shot. What he does is priceless. Everybody knows how well he shoots and that's why they close out the way they do.'' Blake Griffin had 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Clippers, having their best season in franchise history, tuned up for Sunday's showdown at home against Oklahoma City.
After Griffin scored on a monster dunk - off a lob from Crawford - to put Los Angeles ahead by 23, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro pulled his starters with 4:19 left. Rookie Dion Waiters scored 17 for the Cavs, who played their third straight game without injured All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.
Cleveland won two games earlier this week with Irving in street clothes because of a hyperextended knee. C.J. Miles had 16 points and Tristan Thompson 15 for Cleveland, which beat the Clippers earlier this season and was within nine to open the fourth. The Cavs, though, didn't have enough firepower down the stretch to match the high-flying Clippers. "They're without their best player,'' Del Negro said. "They've been playing good basketball. We're coming off a back-to-back. There's no easy games. I don't care who you're playing.''
Crawford nearly had a chance at another four-pointer. After a basket by Eric Bledsoe, Crawford banked in a long 3 to beat the shot clock. As he retreated on defense, Crawford complained to the officials he had been fouled, but to no avail. The next time the Clippers had the ball, Paul drained a 3 to make it 93-76 and Cleveland fans began heading toward the exits. Griffin beat Cleveland's Tyler Zeller down the floor and soared for an alley-oop dunk, getting fouled on the play by the rookie center.
As Griffin picked himself up before shooting and making his free throw, Paul had a word or two with Zeller, who shrugged and tried to explain the contact was not on purpose. Moments later, Griffin made a steal near halfcourt and went in for an uncontested dunk, a throwdown that delighted the crowd and would have earned a 50 from a panel of dunk-contest judges.
But just when it appeared the Clippers might take off, Waiters scored four points and the Cavs went into the fourth down 77-68. "I thought we were lucky to only be down nine,'' Thompson said. "But they've got guys who can make plays. They have Chris Paul and then you have Jamal Crawford, who can score 20 points in five minutes. They have guys who can make plays and make shots.''
Named the Eastern Conference's top rookie in February after averaging 15.8 points, Waiters came out hot. He made his first four shots and scored nine points in the first quarter, but spent the final 2:51 on the bench with two fouls. He had 11 points when he picked up his third personal and had to sit. The Clippers used a 10-run bridging the first and second quarters to open a 12-point lead they extended to 14 on Griffin's three-point play.
Without Irving, and with Waiters in early foul trouble, the Cavs struggled on offense throughout much of the first half. Although Irving's knee has improved, the Cavs decided to rest him again. Cavs coach Byron Scott wanted his young star to be "close to 100 percent'' before he returns.
NOTES: Waiters is averaging 22.8 points in his last four games. ... Scott coached Paul in New Orleans and has remained close with the point guard, who before the game spent some time visiting in the Cleveland coach's office. "He's an unbelievable guy,'' Scott said of CP3. "We've got a great relationship.'' ... Forever a Laker, Scott said it pains him to accept that the Clippers are now the kings of basketball in Los Angeles. "It hurts me to see the purple and gold where it is right now,'' Scott said. ... Clippers C DeAndre Jordan, who came in shooting 42 percent from the line, shot an airball in the first half that wasn't within 2 feet of the rim.
The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the top road teams in the NBA.
Whether that will help the Pacific Division leaders win their first game in Cleveland in more than a decade remains to be seen.
Los Angeles will try to end a 10-game road losing streak in this series on Friday night when the improving Cavs could be without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving for a third consecutive game.
With Thursday's 99-91 victory over Central Division-leading Indiana, which was 24-5 at home, the Clippers (42-18) improved to 19-12 on the road.
Los Angeles is on the verge of winning 20 away from home for the first time since going 20-21 seven seasons ago, but the team is well aware of its struggles against Cleveland (20-38), winner of 13 of 15 in this series following a 108-101 victory at Staples Center on Nov. 5.
"It's going to be a tough game in Cleveland," said point guard Chris Paul, who scored the team's final eight points on Thursday to finish with 29 in the Clippers' fourth straight road win. "They did (beat us earlier this year) and they beat us last year (99-92 on Feb. 8) in Cleveland."
Before kicking off a stretch of seven of nine at home on Sunday versus Oklahoma City, the Clippers -- winners of seven of eight -- will try to record their first victory at Cleveland since March. 10, 2002.
Slowing down Dion Waiters, who hit a season-high seven 3-pointers and scored a team-best 28 points on Nov. 5, could help Los Angeles get the job done.
Waiters, the league's second-highest rookie scorer with 14.8 points per game, has totaled 48 with Irving out the last two games -- wins over Chicago and Toronto. Waiters is averaging 20.3 points over the last six contests, with the Cavs' only losses during this stretch coming against the NBA's top two teams, San Antonio and Miami, and by a total of five points.
"He understands what he has to do when Kyrie is not there, because we asked him to do a little bit more with the ball," coach Byron Scott said.
The Cavaliers' bench has also been a big help, outscoring opponents' reserves by an average of 19.0 points over the last four games. That production helped Cleveland finish 7-5 in February -- its first winning month since March 2010 when LeBron James was still with the team.
"I think we've got a taste of (winnings) now and understand how hard it is and how much work goes into it," forward Luke Walton said.
The Cavs will need that same effort down low against Blake Griffin, who is averaging 26.8 points and 10.5 rebounds in four games versus Cleveland after scoring 20 with six boards on Nov. 5.
Griffin, though, has been hampered by a bursa sac problem in his right elbow, and he needed it checked by trainers on Thursday after crashing to the floor.
Even if that slows the All-Star forward, the Cavs have to find a way to contain Paul. The All-Star Game MVP is shooting 65.0 percent from the field and averaging 24.8 points with 9.8 assists during the Clippers' four-game road winning streak over East foes.
"Best point guard in the universe right now," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.
WTAM 1100 7:30p
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CLEVELAND (AP) Kyrie Irving isn't the only Cavaliers guard with killer instinct on the court. When the game's on the line, Dion Waiters wants the spotlight - and the ball. "I live for that,'' the rookie said.
Waiters scored 23 points, his last two coming on a crucial jumper with 1:43 left, Shaun Livingston added 15 and Cleveland overcame a horrendous start to win its second straight game without an injured Irving, 103-92 over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
The Cavs made only one of their first 15 shots, but recovered and finished February at 7-5, their first winning month since March 2010, when LeBron James was still around. Tristan Thompson scored 14, Wayne Ellington added 13 and Luke Walton had seven rebounds and seven assists for Cleveland, which closed with a 10-2 run. Usually, Irving's the one the Cavs turn to in the closing minutes, when every dribble and every possession are important.
But with their All-Star guard slowed or sidelined with a hyperextended right knee, the Cavs have turned to Waiters, who scored 25 in Tuesday's win at Chicago and has 71 points in his past three games. "As a kid, you see a lot of guys like Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, who live for those moments,'' Waiters said. "You tell yourself you're going to be in that position one day. I'm just blessed to be in that position.'' DeMar DeRozan scored 34 and Rudy Gay had 24 for the Raptors.
Toronto climbed back from an 11-point deficit and pulled within three at 93-90 when Waiters calmly dropped a clutch 15-foot jumper - the kind of shot Irving has made a habit of taking and making in his two seasons as a pro. Thompson, another of the young-and-improving Cavs, added eight rebounds and made all six free throws. After trailing by 11, the Raptors got within 73-71 on DeRozan's jumper.
But Thompson scored six straight points inside and the Cavs reeled off seven consecutive to end the third. Cleveland made its first 20 free throws before Waiters split a pair with 1.7 seconds left, giving Cleveland an 80-71 lead entering the fourth.
A 6-0 burst pushed Cleveland's lead to 86-71, but the Raptors, fighting to stay in the playoff race, weren't finished. Gay's dunk made it 93-90, but Waiters showed no fear in stepping up and dropping his big jumper. On Cleveland's next possession, Livingston fired a no-look pass to Alonzo Gee for a dunk, and after DeRozan scored, the Cavs put the game away by making their free throws down the stretch.
The win was another sign of growth in the Cavs, who went 3-12 in November and 3-13 in December. "We're growing every game,'' Waiters said. The Raptors lost for the first time in four road games since acquiring Gay in a trade from Memphis. It's been a difficult transition for the forward, leaving a contending team to one with slim chances to make the postseason. "Winning fixes everything,'' Gay said. "This is still new to me. That's why I get so frustrated when things happen out there. I'm still trying to figure things out. It's definitely not easy losing. I'm not here to lose.
I don't think anybody else is here to lose.'' The Cavs were beyond awful in the opening minutes, shooting (6.7 percent) from the field and allowing the Raptors to run out to an early 21-7 lead. Gay dropped a 3-pointer during a 16-2 run for Toronto, and in the initial moments of a timeout, Cleveland coach Byron Scott looked at his players as if to say, ""Hey, guys, put the ball in the hoop.'''
Waiters said the Cavs knew they had to get things turned around quickly. "I was like, "We gotta pick it up. We gotta do something. We can't play great against the Bulls and do this,''' he said. "At halftime, we came back and talked, found out what we were doing wrong and came out and executed.''
Cleveland's players finally began finding their range and used an 11-4 spurt to pull within 25-20 heading into the second quarter. Considering their atrocious start, it was incredible the Cavs weren't further down. They heated up in the second quarter, shooting 71.4 percent (15 of 21) and outscoring the Raptors 37-23.
"The second quarter killed us,'' Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "You give up a 37-point quarter and what we're playing for and what's at stake, that's too many points. Cleveland's bench outscored Toronto's 39-8. "We can't play our starters 48 minutes,'' Casey said. "I wish we could. The guys coming off the bench have to be ready to play.''
NOTES: Toronto dropped six games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. ... Former Cavs majority owner Gordon Gund visited with current owner Dan Gilbert and former center Zydrunas Ilgauskas before the game outside Cleveland's locker room. Gund, who is blind, is in Cleveland for meetings for a foundation that raises money and awareness to fight diseases that cause blindness. "We're now delivering treatments and cures,'' Gund said. "That's the major reason I sold it (the team) when I did. I wanted to see it through. That's my passion now.'' ... Cavs G Daniel Gibson was active after missing three games to attend to a personal matter. He did not play on his 27th birthday.
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (sore/hyperextended right knee) is listed as OUT for Wednesday night’s game at The Q against Toronto. His status remains day-to-day and will be updated as appropriate.
Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson has rejoined the team and will be ACTIVE for tonight’s game.
CHICAGO (AP) Dion Waiters scored 25 points to help make up for the absence of Kyrie Irving, and the Cleveland Cavaliers snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Chicago Bulls with a 101-98 victory on Tuesday night.
While Irving rested a sore right knee in street clothes on the sideline, Waiters converted a fadeaway jumper and a layup before Tyler Zeller drove along the baseline for a layup that helped Cleveland open an 87-78 lead with 7:33 left in the game.
The Bulls were down two when they got the ball back with 37.8 seconds left, but Luol Deng missed a long jumper and Shaun Livingston hit two free throws for Cleveland to make it 100-96.
Luke Walton then forced a turnover to get the ball back for the Cavs. Livingston, starting in place of Irving, finished with 15 points as improving Cleveland held on for its third win in the last four games, bouncing back from a difficult 109-105 loss at Miami on Sunday.
Carlos Boozer scored 27 points and Deng had 26 for Chicago, which has dropped five of seven. Kirk Hinrich returned to the lineup after missing three consecutive games with a lingering right elbow issue and finished with 11 points, 11 assists and six rebounds.
The Bulls played their first game of the season without reserve forward Taj Gibson, who sprained his left knee when he stepped on the foot of Oklahoma City guard Reggie Jackson in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 102-72 loss to the Thunder. Gibson is expected to miss at least two weeks in another devastating injury for Chicago.
Derrick Rose has missed the entire season while he recovers from major left knee surgery, and Hinrich also has missed a bunch of games due to a myriad of injuries. Wayne Ellington had 13 points for the Cavaliers, who open a five-game homestand against Toronto on Wednesday. Alonzo Gee finished with 11 points and Tristan Thompson added 10 points and eight rebounds. Chicago and Cleveland handed the lead back and forth for much of the third quarter.
Three consecutive charging calls on the Bulls helped the Cavaliers open a 72-67 advantage on Walton's long jumper with two minutes left in the period, but Joakim Noah found Deng inside to help Chicago get within one. The Bulls had a chance to go in front in the final seconds of the third, but Marco Belinelli's 3-point attempt was blocked by Livingston and Ellington hit a 3 as time expired to lift Cleveland to a 75-71 lead.
NOTES: Rose and Irving have never faced each other in an NBA game. "Well, I think we're all looking forward to that,'' Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "My greatest hope is that No. 1 that Derrick Rose comes back and he's back to being the old Derrick Rose. If that happens and they get a chance to go against each other, I think that would be very interesting.'' ... Livingston was a prep star at Peoria Central H.S. in Illinois. ... Chicago's 115-86 win at Cleveland on Nov. 2 is the worst loss of the season for the Cavaliers.
The slumping Chicago Bulls are coming off the worst shooting display in the NBA this season, but they posted the best effort in the league in 2012-13 during an earlier matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Chicago tries to bounce back from a forgettable performance as it opens a three-game homestand seeking a 12th consecutive win over Cleveland on Tuesday night.
The Bulls (32-24), averaging 92.5 points to rank near the bottom of the NBA, have been limited to 87.6 per game during a 3-6 stretch. Things got especially ugly for Chicago in a 102-72 loss at Oklahoma City on Sunday.
Nate Robinson had 13 points and shot 2 of 14 as the Bulls were held to 29.06 percent from the field -- their lowest mark in nine seasons and slightly worse than Charlotte's 29.11 effort versus the Thunder in November.
"It was bad tonight," Joakim Noah told the team's official website after scoring eight points and going 2 of 9 from the field. "We took steps backward. That's what's frustrating. There's really no excuse. We've just got to bounce back ASAP.
" ... It's not the time to feel sorry for ourselves. We've got a home stretch coming up and things move fast in this league. We've got to bounce back fast."
Chicago, which continues to play without Derrick Rose, was also missing Kirk Hinrich for the 10th time in 11 games due to a sore right elbow. The Bulls could be even more short-handed Tuesday with Taj Gibson uncertain to play.
The reserve forward had eight points and went 2 of 11 from the floor before leaving Sunday with a sprained left knee.
"We've got enough. We have to do our jobs. We've shown when we do that, we're capable of beating anyone," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We have to be mentally tougher, we have to be stronger. When you face a little bit of adversity with whatever, when you're short-handed, you have to dig down and get the job done."
Chicago has certainly taken care of business against Cleveland (18-38) of late. The Bulls have shot 50.5 percent and outscored the Cavaliers by an average of 17.8 points during their 11-game winning streak in the series.
Included in that run is a 115-86 road victory Nov. 2. Chicago went 44 for 69 from the field for the highest field-goal percentage (63.8) by any team this season.
Cleveland posted back-to-back wins over New Orleans and Orlando before coming up short 109-105 at Miami on Sunday. The Cavaliers, who trailed by 22 in the third quarter, led by eight with under five minutes to go but couldn't hold on.
"You can't give up easy baskets," coach Byron Scott said. "We had a very good chance against a very good basketball team, the world champions, and we lost the game because of mental mistakes. That's just something that we can't have happen again."
Rookie Dion Waiters, averaging 18.5 points and 51.7 percent shooting over the last four games, scored a team-high 26. C.J. Miles made five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points off the bench.
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