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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Three-guard lineup sparks Cavs to win


OKLAHOMA CITY — Coach Byron Scott and the Cleveland Cavaliers have found a new way to maximize rookie Kyrie Irving's closing skills when it matters the most.

News photo
Looking for the hoop: New York's Jeremy Lin goes up for a shot between Milwaukee's Beno Udrih (left) and Larry Sanders in the first half on Friday night. The Bucks downed the Knicks 119-114. AP

Antawn Jamison scored 21 points, Irving orchestrated a decisive run in the final 3 minutes and the Cleveland Cavaliers snapped Oklahoma City's 14-game home winning streak by beating the Thunder 96-90 on Friday night.

For the second straight game, Scott closed the game with a three-guard lineup featuring the 206-cm Jamison as the only player taller than 198 cm. It paid off with the team's first back-to-back road wins of the season.

"It allows the lane to open up that much more. . . . I'm able to attack. The basket just seems that much more open than when we have our bigs in.

"No offense to our bigs," Irving said with a smile, "but we didn't need them tonight."

The Cavaliers kept it close by turning the normally fast-breaking Thunder into a half-court team. Oklahoma City converted only three transition baskets until trying to make a dramatic comeback in the final minute.

Neither team led by more than five until the final minute, when Cleveland was putting the finishing touches on a 12-0 run spearheaded by Irving.

Irving drove for a pair of layups to put the Cavs ahead and then found Jamison wide open under the basket for a layup to make it 90-85.

"That lineup is probably our best lineup right now, especially closing out games," Scott said. "I think it gives teams problems as far as matching up with us."

Kevin Durant tried to lead the Thunder back, but missed on a pair of 3-point attempts. He finished with 23 points and Russell Westbrook scored 19 for Oklahoma City.

Celtics 104, Trail Blazers 86

In Boston, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen each scored 22 points and the Celtics rebounded from a lopsided loss and handed one to Portland.

Pistons 86, Hawks 85

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Tayshaun Prince made a driving left-handed shot with 24.3 seconds remaining, and Detroit held on to beat Atlanta.

Nets 83, Bobcats 74

In Charlotte, Kris Humphries had 20 points and 15 rebounds and New Jersey overcame an injury to Deron Williams to beat the hosts.

Anthony Morrow scored all 17 of his points in the fourth quarter to help the Nets break open a tight game.

76ers 104, Jazz 91

In Philadelphia, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young scored 21 points each, lifting the Sixers past Utah.

Evan Turner had 16 points and 12 rebounds, Jrue Holiday also scored 16 points, and Andre Iguodala added 10 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for Philadelphia.

Lakers 105, Timberwolves 102

In Minneapolis, Kobe Bryant scored 34 points and Andrew Bynum added 26 points and 10 rebounds to lift reeling Los Angeles to a victory over the Timberwolves.

Bucks 119, Knicks 114

In Milwaukee, Ersan Ilyasova scored 26 points, including a critical putback in the final minute, and the hosts held on to beat New York.

Clippers 120, Spurs 108

In San Antonio, Chris Paul had 36 points and 11 assists, Mo Williams scored a season-high 33 and Los Angeles ended a 17-game losing streak at San Antonio.

Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 22 points. Tony Parker missed just his second game this season with a sore thigh, depriving the game of an All-Star matchup with Paul.

Nuggets 110, Hornets 97

In Denver, Arron Afflalo scored 28 points, Al Harrington had 20 and the Nuggets pulled away for a victory over New Orleans.

Kings 110, Mavericks 97

In Sacramento, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton each scored 17 points to help the Kings end a 10-game losing streak against Dallas.

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