Cavs Clobber Rockets, Wrap Up Roadie in Style

Cleveland Closes Out Longest Trip of Season at 5-1 with Win Over Houston
Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Managing Editor

Wrap-Up – The Cavs have beaten teams by larger margins and have shot better from the floor. They’ve had better individual performances and turned in more jaw-dropping highlight plays. But maybe no victory this season was more impressive than Friday’s win over the Rockets.

Playing the final game of a grueling six-game, 11-day road trip, the second-half of a back-to-back and their third contest in four nights, the Wine and Gold completely dominated the red-hot Rockets in an arena where they hadn’t won since 2006 – running away with the 91-77 win at the Toyota Center.

History – both traditional and recent – was not on the Wine and Gold’s side on Friday night in Houston. The Cavaliers have won just two games there in the 21st century and only 12 times in the previous 61 tries. The Rockets were the only Western Conference team to sweep Cleveland last season and are one of only two NBA teams that LeBron James has a losing mark against.

With all that stacked against them – not to mention the Rockets running out to a 13-4 lead less than three minutes into Friday’s affair – the Cavaliers turned the tables early and never looked back, getting a huge, unexpected lift from a familiar face.

With the Cavaliers looking forgivably flat to start the game, Coach David Blatt turned to the Wild Thing – Anderson Varejao – who hadn’t played since mop-up duty in a January 2 blowout over Orlando. Andy came in ready to rumble and his energy infected the entire squad.

Cleveland would go on to outscore Houston, 42-22, from the 9:05 mark of the first quarter until LeBron scored on an easy layup to end the first half. The Cavs continued to demoralize the Rockets – who come into Friday’s game winners of five-straight – in the second stanza, holding them to 39 percent from the floor and their superstar swingman, James Harden, to only three shot attempts.

On the night, Harden – the league’s second-leading scorer at 28.0 ppg – finished with just 11 points on 2-for-10 shooting along with a game-high eight turnovers.

Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 23 points, netting nine in the second quarter and 11 more in the fourth. On the night, the three-time All-Star was 9-for-17 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the stripe to go with four boards and a blocked shot.

LeBron was the model of efficiency in his 36 minutes of action – following up with 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting, adding seven boards, seven assists and a pair of blocked shots.

J.R. Smith added 13 points and five boards and Kevin Love doubled-up in his fourth straight outing – finishing with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Tristan Thompson – who moved back into the a reserve role with Timofey Mozgov getting the start against Dwight Howard – led an effective Cavs second unit with 10 points and five boards, hitting all four shots he attempted. Anderson Varejao didn’t put up eye-popping statistics – netting four points, two boards, two assists and a steal – but he did post one big number: a team-high +15 mark in his seven minutes on the floor.

Game Recap
Tristan Thompson
Cavs Conclude Road Trip with Win
Kyrie Irving leads with 23 points, LeBron James adds 19 with seven boards and seven assists as Cleveland takes it 91-77.

The road-weary Cavaliers certainly didn’t have a great offensive night – shooting just 39 percent from the floor and 23 percent from long-distance. They simply out-worked the Rockets on Friday, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds and forcing the Rockets to turn the ball over 19 times.

Turning Point -- After their longest roadie in four years and a daunting four-day run through the Texas Triangle, no one could have blamed the Cavaliers for allowing Houston to run away with the game early on Friday night.

But when LeBron James and J.R. Smith canned back-to-back treys to cut the Rockets’ nine-point lead to just three, it was obvious that the Wine and Gold were determined to avenge last year’s overtime loss in Houston and complete the road trip with a win.

The Cavaliers would keep their foot on the gas throughout the period, closing the quarter on Matthew Dellavedova’s floater with three seconds remaining to cap a 19-8 run and give Cleveland its first lead of the game – and one they wouldn’t relinquish at any point the rest of the way.

By the Numbers13.1, 11.5, … Kevin Love’s scoring and rebounding average on the six-game road trip. Since the start of the 2008-09 season, Love has tallied 312 double-doubles, second only to Houston’s starting center on Friday night, Dwight Howard, who registered No. 373 with 14 points and 11 boards.

QuotableKyrie Irving, on the Cavs second unit in Friday night’s win …

”They were awesome. They’ve been awesome this entire year. Just giving us that energy that we need, especially when our first unit is lacking it. Having all our pieces and having everyone in a rhythm going into that second quarter as well as the third going into the fourth knowing that our starters don’t have to play as many minutes is a positive and a great thing to have on our team.”

Up Next – After wrapping up their six-game road trip on Friday night in Houston, the Wine and Gold return home – although they’ve got a busy week ahead. On Monday night, it’s the eagerly-awaited rematch with the Warriors – who won the 2015 NBA Finals by taking Game 6 at on the corner of Huron and Ontario – last June and topped Cleveland this past Christmas in Oakland. After that huge matchup, the Cavaliers get right back on the road, traveling to Brooklyn for the first half of a back-to-back on Wednesday night against the Nets before returning home for a Thursday night meeting with the Clippers. The Cavs close out the week hosting the Bulls in Cleveland on Saturday night.


Cavaliers vs. Rockets - January 15, 2016

Kyrie Irving leads with 23 points, LeBron James adds 19 with seven boards and seven assists as Cleveland takes it 91-77.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets - January 15, 2016

Scroll Video up Scroll Video down Scroll Video left Scroll Video right

Cavaliers vs. Rockets - January 15, 2016

Kyrie Irving leads with 23 points, LeBron James adds 19 with seven boards and seven assists as Cleveland takes it 91-77.
Jan 16, 2016  |  02:01

Postgame: Kyrie Irving – January 15, 2016

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving spoke with the media following Friday’s 91-77 victory against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
Jan 16, 2016  |  03:25

Postgame: Iman Shumpert – January 15, 2016

Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert spoke with the media following Friday’s 91-77 victory against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
Jan 16, 2016  |  01:22

Postgame: Anderson Varejao – January 15, 2016

Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao spoke with the media following Friday’s 91-77 victory against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
Jan 16, 2016  |  02:37

Postgame: Kevin Love – January 15, 2016

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love spoke with the media following Friday’s 91-77 victory against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
Jan 16, 2016  |  01:26

Postgame: Coach Blatt – January 15, 2016

Cavaliers Head Coach David Blatt spoke with the media following Friday’s 91-77 victory against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
Jan 16, 2016  |  05:59

Postgame: LeBron James – January 15, 2016

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media following Friday’s 91-77 victory against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
Jan 16, 2016  |  04:55

On-Court Postgame: LeBron James – January 15, 2016

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with FOX Sports Ohio’s Allie Clifton following Friday’s 91-77 victory against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
Jan 16, 2016  |  02:06

Irving Dances on the Defense - January 15, 2016

Kyrie Irving dribbles circles around the defense and cruises in for the layup.
Jan 15, 2016  |  00:11

Delly Goes Up Top to Thompson - January 15, 2016

Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson run their trademark tear drop alley-oop.
Jan 15, 2016  |  00:11

LeBron Splits the Defenders - January 15, 2016

LeBron James sails inside and leaves two Rockets' defenders in the dust.
Jan 15, 2016  |  00:12

LBJ Closes out the Half - January 15, 2016

LeBron James takes James Harden off the dribble and finishes the layup to close out the first half.
Jan 15, 2016  |  00:12

Delly Beats the 1st Quarter Buzzer - January 15, 2016

Iman Shumpert dishes to Matthew Dellavedova who throws up a bank shot to close out the first quarter as the Wine and Gold take the lead.
Jan 15, 2016  |  00:08

Related Content