NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving looked ready to slam the ball down in frustration, angry his coach had stopped him when the Knicks couldn’t.
Everything worked out during that timeout Irving didn’t want. David Blatt put the ball right back in his point guard’s hands, and Irving delivered one last time.
Kyrie Irving scored a season-high 37 points, including a layup with 10 seconds left, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat New York 90-87 on Dec. 4 for their season-best fifth straight victory.
“I saw something different out there, but that’s just part of the game,” Irving said of his reaction to Blatt’s timeout. “He called timeout, drew up a heck of a play, trusted me with the ball at the end of the game, and we’re getting used to one another.”
Irving carried the Cavs most of the game before LeBron James had five straight points late that helped Cleveland pull it out. LeBron James finished with 19 points and 12 assists, content to be a passer most of the night because of Irving’s play.
“Spectacular,” James said. “Any time we needed a bucket, he made it. Any time we needed some energy, he gave it.”
Carmelo Anthony ended a 4-for-19 night by missing a 3-pointer in the final seconds as the Knicks dropped their sixth straight and fell to 4-16. He scored nine points.
“For the most part I thought everybody played extremely well tonight,” Anthony said. “I wish I played better. I know I could have played a little bit better. I just wasn’t there for my team offensively tonight.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 points and Amare Stoudemire had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who were trying to surprise the Cavs for the second time this season.
But New York, which spoiled James’ first game back in Cleveland with a 95-90 victory on Oct. 30, couldn’t hold on after leading by seven in the final quarter.
James nailed his lone 3-pointer in six attempts for an 86-85 lead with 3:54 left, then helped force a turnover and turned it into a fast-break dunk for a three-point lead with 3:25 to go.
Stoudemire’s basket cut it to 88-87, and the teams traded misses until Cleveland had the ball with under a half-minute left and Irving dribbling in the frontcourt. He said he saw a lane to the right and only 9 seconds left on the shot clock, but Blatt saw something else.
“Well, Kyrie is doing a lot better when he’s playing than when he’s coaching,” Blatt joked. Irving then made a lefty layup, saying later he trusted Blatt “100 percent.”
Kevin Love had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavs, who had averaged 109.8 points in the previous four victories but could never get their offense going in this one — except for Irving.
He finished 12 of 18 from the field and bettered the 29 points per game he was scoring at Madison Square Garden, which was his best at any arena.
(BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer)