WASHINGTON (AFP) - Kyrie Irving put on a fourth-quarter show on Wednesday, picking up where LeBron James left off to help the Cleveland Cavaliers launch a six-game National Basketball Association road trip with a 121-115 victory over the Washington Wizards.
"King" James scored 30 of his 34 points in the first three quarters and Irving poured in 19 of his 32 in the fourth period as the Cavaliers avenged a 97-85 loss to the Wizards in Cleveland on Dec 1.
"It was in the front of our mind," James said of what remains the Cavs' only home loss this season. "We know what they did to us. We just wanted to try to get some give-back."
Irving continued the progress he has shown since returning on Dec 20 from the knee injury suffered in game one of last season's NBA Finals.
"There will be days when he's better and days when he's going to have some effect of the many months he was out," Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. "But that sure didn't look like that tonight."
James, who also pulled down 10 rebounds, helped Eastern Conference leaders Cleveland build an 18-point lead with a barrage of four three-pointers early in the third quarter.
The Wizards answered with their own surge, knotting the score at 95-95 with 10 minutes and 53 seconds to play.
Irving took over, scoring the game's next 10 points.
"That was nuts," said Cavs guard J.R. Smith, who scored 25 points himself. "To be out months and still be able to come out there and shake and bake like he's doing is remarkable."
Garrett Temple scored 21 points for the Wizards while John Wall, the NBA's Eastern Conference player of the month for December, had 20 points and 12 assists. Both teams shot better than 53 per cent from the field.
Washington made 14 of 24 three pointers, but only 17 of 27 from the free-throw line.
The real difference, however, was simple, Temple said. "Too much Kyrie," the Washington guard said. "He was hitting some tough, tough shots."