Cavs use long-range bombs to block out Suns

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[December 29, 2015]  (The Sports Xchange) - Guard Kyrie Irving scored 22 points in 24 minutes and hit his team's 17th three-pointer just before the shot clock buzzer with 21 seconds left as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the fading Phoenix Suns 101-97 on Monday.

Guard J.R. Smith scored 17 points including five three-pointers for the Cavaliers (20-9), who avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season after back-to-back road losses to Golden State and Portland.

Forward Kevin Love had 16 points and seven rebounds and guard LeBron James added 16 points and seven assists for Cleveland, who made 17-of-41 three-pointers in the game.

Forward T.J. Warren had 13 of his season-high 23 points in the fourth quarter for the Suns (12-21), who have lost five in a row and 16 of the last 21 games overall.

Brandon Knight had 18 points and Jon Leuer and P.J. Tucker had 14 each for Phoenix.

Two days after losing to the 2-29 Philadelphia 76ers, the Suns put up a much better fight but suffered the same result.

Down by as many as 11 in the second half, Phoenix inched within one at 96-95 on a three-pointer by Knight with 1:27 left.

The Suns had a chance to take the lead but another Knight three-pointer was wiped out by a Tyson Chandler offensive foul with 46.6 seconds left.

Cleveland had a disjointed possession but James saved the ball from going out of bounds before Love found Irving for a long three-pointer that gave his team some breathing room.

Irving had seven points and a steal in seven first-quarter minutes and the Cavaliers led by as many as six.

Cleveland hit 12-of-19 shots in the quarter but led only 34-30 thanks to seven points from Leuer and six from Tucker and rookie guard Devin Booker, making his first NBA start.

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The Suns used a 9-0 run early in the second quarter to take a 39-36 lead on two free throws by center Alex Len with 9:17 left. Warren had 10 points off the bench in the quarter.

But the starters came back and Cleveland reasserted control, with three-pointers by Love, Smith and guard Matthew Dellavedova as part of a 13-1 run that gave the Cavs a 58-49 lead with two minutes left.

Love led all scorers with 13 points at the half and Irving added 11. James had eight points and five assists and Cleveland led 60-54.

Cleveland pushed its lead to 11 points early in the third quarter on a 21-foot jumper by James before the Suns reeled off a 15-6 run and then got as close as 74-73 on a dunk by forward Mirza Teletovic with 4:36 to go.

Again, the Suns could not get over the hump.

Cleveland closed with seven straight points capped by a layup and two free throws by Irving and led 81-73 after three quarters.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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