CLEVELAND – Kyrie Irving, coming off the first scoreless game of his career, scored 20 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 88-82 Saturday night.
Tristan Thompson added 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Andrew Bynum added 18 points for Cleveland.
Irving, who didn’t score in a season-low 20 minutes Friday against Atlanta, scored seven points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws with 15.7 seconds left to put the game away.
Jamal Crawford scored 19 points for the Clippers, who have lost three of four. Chris Paul scored 13 points while DeAndre Jordan added 12.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao got into a scuffle with 2:21 to play. Varejao bumped his shoulder into Griffin, who responded by shoving Varejao to the floor. Griffin continued toward Varejao, who was on his back under the Clippers’ basket. Players and coaches from both teams surrounded the two players.
Varejao was given a personal foul while Griffin and Cleveland’s Jarrett Jack were hit with technicals.
Irving made his first shot of the night on a layup a little over three minutes into the game. The basket snapped a streak of 14 consecutive misses dating to the third quarter of Wednesday’s game against Denver. The All-Star point guard was 0 of 9 Friday. He was 6 of 15 from the field Saturday.
Crawford’s 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left cut Cleveland’s lead to 85-82, but a free throw by Dion Waiters and two more by Irving pushed the lead to six.
Cleveland led 60-52 late in the third quarter, but the Clippers hit four 3-pointers in the final 2:37, including two by Darren Collison and one each by Paul and Crawford, to take a two-point lead with 1.9 seconds remaining. Jack’s 3-pointer from midcourt at the buzzer put Cleveland ahead for good 67-66.
The Cavaliers lost 108-89 Friday after winning back-to-back games for the first time this season. Cleveland was outscored 37-20 in the first quarter and was never in the game. The Cavaliers looked much sharper in the first period Saturday, jumping to a 29-23 lead, in which Irving scored seven points.
Irving, who scored on a slick left-handed spin move along the baseline, helped Cleveland build a 39-30 lead midway through the second quarter, but a 13-4 run put the Clippers ahead 44-43, their first lead since early in the game. Paul scored five points and Jordan added a three-point play. The Cavaliers led 50-49 at halftime.
The Clippers, making their third stop of a seven-game road trip, were coming off a 101-81 win in Memphis on Thursday in one of their best all-around efforts of the season.
A young fan interrupted play in the second quarter when he ran on the floor near midcourt. Several security personnel quickly grabbed the fan and escorted him off the court. According to Twitter reports the fan was wearing a “Don’t leave Kyrie” T-shirt, a reference to keeping Irving in Cleveland.