Irving’s 23 Helps Cavaliers Top Nuggets, 117-109
DENVER (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 23 points, Tristan Thompson had 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Denver Nuggets 117-109 on Friday night.
C.J. Miles added 19 points for Cleveland, including four free throws down the stretch. Luol Deng scored 18.
The Cavaliers finished their five-game Western Conference road trip with a 3-2 record after winning in Denver for the second time in three years. They led most of the way and held off a late rally by the Nuggets that cut a double-digit lead to three early in the fourth quarter.
Denver had won its last four home games, but fell to 11-9 at Pepsi Center this season. It had a 38-3 home record last season.
The Nuggets attempted a season-high 37 3-pointers, making 14, but struggled from long range down the stretch.
After Tyler Zeller’s free throw made it 94-86 with 9:33 remaining, Evan Fournier hit a floating jump shot in the lane and Nate Robinson made a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to three. It was the closest Denver had been since the second quarter.
The Cavaliers responded with five straight points. Anderson Varejao hit a jumper and free throw and Irving also scored to make it 99-91.
Denver made a couple more charges, but each rally fizzled when it got close.
Wilson Chandler hit two 3-pointers to help the Nuggets get within three at 111-108. Denver had a chance to get within one or tie but an offensive rebound by Irving led to a dunk by Deng with 43.8 seconds left, and Cleveland closed it out from there.
The Cavaliers led by 14 in the third quarter but Denver made a push to close to 87-80 heading into the fourth. Chandler scored seven points in the period, including a free throw at the end to get the Nuggets within seven.
Irving, Thompson and Miles all had 13 points in the first half for Cleveland, which used an 18-6 run to take a 68-57 lead at the break. Irving scored 10 points in the spurt and Miles hit a corner 3-pointer just before the end of the quarter to push the lead to 11.
The Nuggets hit nine 3-pointers in the first 24 minutes to keep it close but allowed the Cavaliers to hit 56.5 percent from the field in allowing 68 points in the first half for the second time this season.
Randy Foye led Denver with 14 points at the break.
NOTES: Nuggets F Darrell Arthur (left groin strain) missed his third straight game. … Deng is averaging 18 points since coming to the Cavaliers in a trade with Chicago on Jan. 7. … Nuggets coach Brian Shaw missed shootaround with a sinus infection but was on the sideline for the game.
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