PHOENIX – Kyrie Irving scored a season-high 22 points, including a huge three-pointer in the final minute, and Cleveland Cavaliers defeated hosts Phoenix Suns 101-97 last night.
The Cavs survived two potential turning points in the final minute. Clinging to a 96-95 lead, Brandon Knight’s three-pointer was waived off because of an offensive foul on Tyson Chandler prior to the shot.
Irving then nearly threw the ball away on the Cavs’ ensuing possession, but the Suns were out of position to make the steal and J.R. Smith saved it from going out of bounds. The ball eventually went back to Irving, who made the three-pointer as the shot clock expired for a 99-95 lead with 21 seconds left.
Kevin Love scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds while appearing to play through a hand injury in the second half for the Cavs, while LeBron James had 14 points, four rebounds and seven assists. Smith scored 17 points, including five three-pointers.
Irving returned after sitting out a loss to Portland, and David Blatt changed the starting lineup, inserting Tristan Thompson and benching the struggling Timofey Mozgov.
Monta Ellis scored 26 points, and hosts Indiana Pacers beat Atlanta Hawks 93-87 to end the Hawks’ six-game winning streak.
Ellis had 15 points in the first half, and Ian Mahinmi finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.
On a night when Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan paid tribute to Kobe Bryant, it was Kemba Walker who stole the spotlight.
Walker scored 18 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter, and the Hornets defeated Los Angeles Lakers 108-98 in Bryant’s final game in Charlotte against the team that drafted him – and promptly traded him – nearly 20 years ago.
Kawhi Leonard had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Boban Marjanovic also scored 17, and San Antonio Spurs remained undefeated at home by holding off Minnesota Timberwolves 101-95.
San Antonio joined the 1978 Portland Trail Blazers and 1986 Houston Rockets as the only Western Conference teams to open a season 18-0 at home.
Tony Snell and Pau Gasol each had 22 points, Derrick Rose added 20, and hosts Chicago Bulls pulled away late for a 104-97 victory over Toronto Raptors.
Aaron Brooks had 17 points and rookie Bobby Portis added 12 as the Chicago reserves outscored their counterparts 51-27.