In what’s quickly becoming a regular practice for the Cavs, the ball ended up in Kyrie Irving’s hands in a tight game late in the fourth quarter, and Irving again rose to the occasion by draining a 3-point dagger to put Cleveland up 125-116 with just 34 seconds to go. Houston couldn’t recover from that and ended up falling 128-120 Tuesday night.
Following a third quarter that saw Houston outscore the Cavs 25-22, Cleveland picked it up in the final 12 minutes and put up 43 points to close out the game. Irving led the way for the Cavs with 32 points on 10-19 shooting. The other two members of the Cavs’ big three turned it excellent performances as well.
LeBron James finished the game with 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, and Kevin Love poured in 24 points and grabbed five rebounds. In addition to stuffing the stat sheet, Love also made several big plays in the fourth quarter. First, he got his hands on a Houston pass, which led LeBron finding Mike Dunleavy for a transition 3-pointer. Then on the next possession, Love deflected another pass, and this time it led to three Love free throws after the big man was fouled on a 3-point attempt.
As well as the Cavs played in the fourth quarter, there was still reason for concern. They struggled with pick-and-roll defense for most of the night, and Houston took advantage of that to the tune of 48points in the paint. Additionally, the ball got sticky at times, particularly in the third quarter. On multiple possessions in the third, the Cavs went deep into the shot clock and then forced up a difficult shot.
The reasons for optimism outweigh the reasons for concern, however. Cleveland shot the ball well Tuesday night, shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. The Cavaliers also out-rebounded the Rockets 46-32.
With the win, Cleveland moves to 4-0 on the season. Its next game will be Thursday against the Celtics.