Irving rallies Cavs to 104-101 win over Jazz
CLEVELAND (AP) — For more than 40 minutes, the Cavaliers were lifeless and lost.
Kyrie Irving snapped his teammates out of their funk just in time.
Irving scored 20 points, 11 in the last 4:21, and Cleveland's All-Star guard made all the big plays down the stretch, rallying the Cavs to a 104-101 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
Cleveland trailed 100-92 with less than three minutes left before Irving, the soon-to-be 21-year-old with a maturing game, took over. He scored eight points, grabbed two rebounds, made a steal and had the assist on Wayne Ellington's go-ahead dunk with 56 seconds left as Cleveland stormed back and stunned the Jazz.
"Merry Christmas to us," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "We got lucky. That was a gift, basically."
Irving added 10 assists in his second game back after missing three with a hyperextended knee. Tristan Thompson had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who trailed by 12 in the fourth and appeared to be going through the motions for more than three quarters.
"The last 15 minutes is when we started playing," Scott said. "With 15 minutes left, I told them, 'Right now, you're showing no interest in this game. You better start playing these last 15 minutes.' Up until that time, I didn't see any interest."
Gordon Hayward scored 25 and Enes Kanter had 17 for the Jazz, who have lost five of six.
After Ellington's dunk made it 102-101, Utah's Mo Williams missed a layup that danced around the rim but wouldn't drop.
"I've never seen a layup come out like that," said Williams, returning to the lineup after missing Utah's previous 32 games with a thumb injury. "That was amazing. I've never, ever seen anything like that. I don't think I've ever missed a layup, even in practice.
"I've shot a trillion layups in my life. I've never missed one like that."
With Cleveland trailing 100-92, Irving made a gorgeous baseline spin and dropped a short jumper. He then split a pair of free throws and dropped two more to bring the Cavs within 101-97. Williams missed a 3-pointer before Irving converted a three-point play to bring Cleveland within one.
On Utah's next trip, Irving poked the ball away from Hayward, dribbled up the floor and fed Ellington, who finished strong at the rim to put the Cavs ahead by one. The play sent a shockwave through the crowd at Quicken Loans Arena that had waited all night for something good to happen.
Williams, who spent three seasons with the Cavs, found a lane to the basket but had his potential go-ahead layup make a full trip around the rim without falling. As Ellington was fouled grabbing the rebound, Williams stared at the basket in disbelief.
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