Cavs lose in Irving's return
NEW ORLEANS (AP)
After getting off to a slow start, Greivis Vasquez was challenged by his coach at halftime. Vasquez responded with a strong third quarter to lead the New Orleans Hornets to an easy victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Vasquez scored 16 of his 25 points in the third quarter and the Hornets beat the slumping Cavaliers 112-92 on Sunday.
After missing two of the previous three games with an ankle injury, Vasquez was held to five points and three assists in the first half.
''(Hornets coach Monty Williams) called me out in front of everybody (at the half),'' said Vasquez, who also had nine assists. ''When he calls me out I got to respond. I don't take it personally.''
Ryan Anderson added 23 points for the Hornets to help the Hornets bounce back from a blowout loss to Miami on Friday night and snap a two-game skid. Anthony Davis had 17 points and 13 rebounds for his rookies-leading 17th double-double, Brian Roberts scored 15 and Eric Gordon had 14.
Kryie Irving returned from a shoulder injury and led the Cavaliers with 31 points and six assists. Cleveland, which lost its eighth straight, was 1-7 in Irving's absence. Tristan Thompson, Wayne Ellington and Mareese Speights each scored 12 points for the Cavaliers and Shaun Livingston had 11.
The Hornets trailed 49-48 at the half but scored a season-high 36 points in the third quarter to take an 84-73 lead. Vasquez shot 6 for 6 in the quarter and Davis added 13 points, including three alley-oop dunks, all off assists by Vasquez.
''I'm just trying to get in (Vasquez's vision),'' Davis said. ''Every time he drives to the basket I'm just trying to get in a spot where he can find me. He tells me he's going to get it to me.''
The Hornets scored 15 consecutive points early in the third quarter to take a 65-53 lead with 8:07 remaining. Vasquez and Davis combined to score 29 points in the quarter.
New Orleans increased the lead to 20 midway through the fourth quarter.
''We came out soft (in the second half),'' Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. ''I did not think we came out with the same intensity that we should have. I do not know if they were just tired or whatever the case may be.''
Irving appeared tentative in the first quarter, missing his only attempt and scoring two points on two free throws, although he had three assists.
The Cavaliers' guard took control in the second quarter, scoring 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the period. During one stretch, he scored 10 consecutive points to rally the Cavaliers from a 39-35 deficit with 3:49 remaining to a 45-43 lead at the 1:54 mark.
''I feel good,'' Irving said. ''My body is holding up right now. I hit a few shots bit I just wanted to win.''
New Orleans overcame a turnover-plagued first half by shooting 54.5 percent from the field. The Hornets committed eight turnovers in the opening period, leading to six Cleveland points, and finished with 12 for the half.
However, Hornets shooters took advantage of a passive Cavaliers defense, making 18 of 33 attempts on repeated open looks. Anderson, the Hornets' 3-point specialist, was 3 for 5 beyond the arc and finished the half with a team-high 15 points.
He finished the game 5 of 7 on 3s.
''When (the guards) penetrate they make it easy for me,'' Anderson said. ''They take their defenders into the paint and take my defender, which leaves me open. When they're aggressive it's easy basketball and they were super aggressive for me.''
NOTES: New Orleans went 4-3 on its seven-game homestand that included wins against playoff contenders Boston, Denver and Memphis. ... The Cavaliers entered leading the Eastern Conference in second-chance points, averaging 15 per game, but were held to six. ... The Hornets held a 49-29 advantage in scoring by reserves.