Irving was coming off an impressive showing at All-Star weekend in Houston and scored 11 consecutive points for the Cavaliers as they broke away from an 83-all tie in the final 4:23. His performance brought the crowd at Quicken Loans Arena to its feet during the final minutes and had Irving pumping his fist on several occasions.
The game featured a matchup between the past two No. 1 overall draft picks -- Irving and Hornets center Anthony Davis. Irving made 13 of 22 shots and all seven of his free throws while having seven assists. Davis had 12 points and four rebounds.
The Cavaliers placed five players in double figures in snapping a three-game losing streak, but the night belonged to Irving. After his fall-away jumper gave Cleveland a two-point lead, he hit a 3-pointer from a couple of steps behind the arc to put the Cavaliers ahead 88-83. That basket forced New Orleans to call a timeout, but Irving was just getting going.
New Orleans missed again on its ensuing possession and Irving converted a layup between two defenders on a fast break for a 90-83 lead. He added another basket after driving the lane and two free throws.
Irving drew national attention with his performance during the weekend. He scored 15 points in his first All-Star game, won the 3-point contest and put up 32 points in the Rising Stars Challenge.
Dion Waiters scored 16 points for the Cavaliers while C.J. Miles added 11.
Brian Roberts led New Orleans with 17 points. Robin Lopez scored 15 points before fouling out, while Greivis Vasquez added 13.
Irving had his worst performance of the season in the final game before the break against San Antonio with six points on 2-of-15 shooting. Cleveland played the finale of a seven-game homestand, which began with three wins. The Cavaliers then lost the last three games before the break.
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New Orleans lost at home to Chicago on Tuesday and then made the trip to Cleveland for an unusual back-to-back set.
Hornets guard Eric Gordon didn't play for precautionary reasons as he continues to recover from knee surgery. He has yet to play on back-to-back nights on orders of the team's medical staff. Gordon, who is averaging 16.6 points, missed the final game before the All-Star break with a sprained right hand, but scored 20 points Tuesday in a 96-87 loss to Chicago.
Rookie Austin Rivers started in Gordon's place and scored 11 points. Ryan Anderson, who leads New Orleans in scoring with a 16.9 average, was held to seven points.
Cleveland led 43-41 at halftime, but Irving and Waiters each scored six points to help the Cavaliers build a 10-point lead midway through the third quarter. Irving hit a jumper, drove the lane for a basket and added a dunk off a fast break, but the Hornets regrouped and went ahead on Vazquez's two free throws. Vazquez scored eight points in the period and New Orleans led 69-68 going into the fourth quarter.
NOTES: New Orleans F Al-Fasrouq Aminu had 10 rebounds in 36 minutes. ... Gordon has appeared in 19 games, but it's unclear when he'll be able to play on consecutive nights. "I wish that (policy) was over, but we don't see it ending anytime soon," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "For whatever reason, the doctors feel that's best for Eric. But he's healthy, so it's tough." ... Cavaliers coach Byron Scott will attend the funeral services for Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss on Thursday in Los Angeles. Scott played for the Lakers for 11 seasons and remained close to Buss over the years. "I'm trying to remember how great he was as a person and how great he was as an owner," Scott said. ... Assistant coach Paul Pressey will run Thursday's practice and Scott will return for Friday's session.
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