The Rockets withstood Kyrie Irving’s offensive explosion to beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland 105-93.
The Cavaliers gave the Rockets a taste of their own medicine in the first quarter as they hit 5-9 from three. Cleveland used an 8-0 run to build a six-point lead, but Houston countered with an 8-0 run of their own thanks to a spark off the bench from Corey Brewer and Josh Smith. Smith scored nine points in 10 minutes in the first half.
Trevor Ariza broke out of a shooting slump in the first half, hitting 5/10 FG (including three three-pointers) to lead Houston with 13 at halftime.
With LeBron sitting, Kyrie Irving went off with 23 points on 9-11 FG in the first half. No other Cavalier had more than five points in the half.
However, the Rockets were able to withstand Irving and take a one-point lead into halftime thanks to seven steals (four just by Ariza).
Kyrie Irving continued his onslaught in the third, pouring in 11 more points to flop the score and give Cleveland a one-point lead heading to the final frame.
In the fourth, Dwight Howard took over. Howard racked up nine of his 17 points in the fourth and grabbed a season-high 19 rebounds. Howard and the Rockets defense held Irving to just four fourth-quarter points (though he finished with a Rockets opponent season-high 38 points).
Josh Smith poured in 16 off the bench, including a corner three to seal the victory and James Harden quietly filled the box with 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
The Rockets fly to New York for the second half of a back-to-back tomorrow against the Knicks.