Irving's 23 helps Cavaliers top Nuggets, 117-109
Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers used a balanced offensive attack to close out a successful Western Conference road trip.
Irving scored 23 points, Tristan Thompson had 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Cavaliers beat the Denver Nuggets 117-109 on Friday night.
''Everyone has to be guarded,'' Irving said. ''It's a luxury right now.''
The Cavaliers finished their five-game 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.
Cleveland went 28 for 35 at the free-throw line, including 12 of 15 in the fourth quarter.
''We had each other's back because on the road it's us against the world,'' coach Mike Brown said. ''We had a lot of guys step up. We were aggressive with 35 free-throw attempts.''
Wilson Chandler scored 23 points and Ty Lawson had 19 points and 11 assists for the Nuggets, who have dropped two of three. 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.
''These games should be in the win column,'' Lawson said. ''We just keep letting easy games go. Our last month is tough, we've got to get these games right now.''
The Nuggets attempted a season-high 37 3-pointers, making 14, but struggled from long range down the stretch.
''We were taking what the defense was giving us,'' Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. ''In the second half we threw up a lot because we were down and we were trying to get back in the game. But I don't think our offense was hurting us - it was defense.''
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.
''We still had the lead. The momentum was in their favor but that happens on the road, especially against a good home team,'' Irving said. ''We had to remain aggressive and that's what we did.''
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.
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.
''We wanted it and we went out and took it,'' Irving said. ''Couple of mistakes at the end but it didn't rattle us.''
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.
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.
''That second quarter we gave them 42 points,'' Foye said. ''That just killed us. Every other quarter we held them down. That second quarter killed us.''
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. ... Shaw missed shootaround with a sinus infection but was on the sideline for the game.