Cavs' big three leave it late against Suns

Cleveland's Kyrie Irving beating (from left) Phoenix's Alex Len, Devin Booker and Brandon Knight to recover a turnover in their NBA game. The Cavs enjoyed big leads at the end of each of the first three quarters but had to fend off the Suns' late com
Cleveland's Kyrie Irving beating (from left) Phoenix's Alex Len, Devin Booker and Brandon Knight to recover a turnover in their NBA game. The Cavs enjoyed big leads at the end of each of the first three quarters but had to fend off the Suns' late comeback push to win 120-116.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

James gets 28pts, Irving 27 and Love 25 as Cleveland hang on despite Phoenix fightback

PHOENIX • What looked like an easy night at the office quickly turned into a fourth-quarter dogfight for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But in the end, their big dogs had enough left to take care of business.

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 80 points for Cleveland, who blew a 20-point third-quarter lead but hung on to beat the Phoenix Suns 120-116 in a National Basketball Association game on Sunday.

James had 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, including two three-pointers 25 seconds apart to stretch a two-point Cleveland lead to a 115-109 with 2min 47sec left.

"LeBron hit two big transition threes, his only two threes of the game," Phoenix coach Earl Watson said. "He's LeBron for a reason."

SPURRED TO RESPOND

They are the champions and you can feel that energy in the crowd that makes you want to play that much harder.

DEVIN BOOKER, Phoenix Suns guard, on their marked improvement in the final quarter.

Irving scored 27 points and Love added 25 points for Cleveland, who beat Phoenix for the fourth straight time and earned a second straight win to open a six-game road trip.

It is the fourth straight game each member of the trio has scored at least 20 points.

The Cavaliers (28-8) shot 54 per cent from the field, and hit 15 of 34 three-pointers (44 per cent) but had to regroup to chase off the pesky Suns to win for the 15th time in the last 18 games and post their best 36-game start since going 30-6 to start the 2008-09 season.

"We made enough plays down the stretch to get a win," said James, who combined with Irving for 14 of Cleveland's 20 turnovers (seven each).

"The defensive pressure forced us to extend our offence a little more, but we figured it out."

Eric Bledsoe had 31 points and Devin Booker added 28 for the Suns (12-26), who missed a chance for their first three-game winning streak since Nov 12-16, 2015 before a sell-out crowd of 18,055 at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

T.J. Warren had 15 points and Tyson Chandler had 10 points and 15 rebounds for Phoenix, who were down by 22 in the first half and 69-53 at half-time.

"They are the champions and you can feel that energy in the crowd that makes you want to play that much harder," Booker said. "We came in at half-time and realised we had to be the aggressors.

"We already felt disrespected with all the Cavs fans in the arena cheering them when they were announced. We didn't want to go out the way we were playing."

Cavaliers' new acquisition Kyle Korver came into Talking Stick Arena with the team's general manager David Griffin about two hours before the game.

Coach Tyronn Lue said the Cavaliers' portion of the trade - which would send Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams, a protected first-round pick and cash considerations to the Atlanta Hawks - is complete. "It's in the league's hands right now," Lue said.

Cleveland hope Korver can make his debut today at the Utah Jazz.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2017, with the headline 'Cavs' big three leave it late against Suns'. Print Edition | Subscribe