|Date of game: 1/7/2015
Recap: Cleveland vs. Houston
Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - James Harden missed 12 of his 18 shots but scored a team-high 21 points and the Houston Rockets pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 105-93 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
Dwight Howard finished with 17 points and a season-high 19 rebounds and Josh Smith scored 16 points off the bench, including seven in the fourth quarter when the Rockets outscored the Cavaliers 32-19 on the way to their third win in five games.
Corey Brewer had eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and Trevor Ariza ended with 13 in the victory.
Kyrie Irving returned to score a season-high 38 points to lead the Cavs, including 34 in the first three quarters. He didn't make a field goal in the fourth quarter until there was around a minute left, drawing Cleveland within seven points. He missed his last two shots, both from 3-point range.
J.R. Smith went scoreless in his Cavaliers debut, missing all five of his shots in more than 17 minutes off the bench.
Smith was acquired along with Iman Shumpert from New York on Monday as part of a three-team, six-player deal. Shumpert hasn't played since Dec. 12 because of a dislocated left shoulder.
Kevin Love added 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Cavs and Tristan Thompson scored 11.
Cleveland has lost six of its last seven games, including five of six since LeBron James has been sidelined with knee and back strains.
The Cavs are also without center Anderson Varejao, who suffered a torn left Achilles tendon two weeks ago.
"It's not so much that we're running out of gas, (it's that we don't have) the production from the bench that we had," Cleveland coach David Blatt said. "Some of those guys are playing the bulk of the minutes now and it's not the same."
Houston took the lead on Smith's runner seconds into the fourth quarter and never trailed again. Brewer buried two 3-pointers to cap an 8-0 Rockets run that made it a nine-point game with six minutes left and Cleveland was never closer than six after that.
Irving, who missed Monday's road loss to Philadelphia, scored 16 of his 23 first-half points in the second quarter, missing just one of his eight shots. He buried a 3-pointer in the final seconds to get the Cavs within 49-48 at the break, going 9-for-11 in the half.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale said his players tried taking the ball from Irving too many times.
"Every time we'd dig, he'd just go by us," McHale said. "He scored like eight to 10 points on us (while we were) trying to take the ball from him. You can't do that."
The rest of the Cavaliers shot 25 percent in the first half, but the hosts outscored Houston 26-24 in the third quarter behind 11 points each from Love and Irving to carry a 74-73 lead into the fourth.Game Notes
The Hawks hosted "Swipe Right Night" -- an event the team said was aimed at
connecting Hawks fans via Tinder, the mobile dating app in which users can
swipe right to like a profile ... Houston has won the last five games in the
series ... The Rockets finish a three-game road trip Thursday in New York ...
The Cavs start a five-game road trip on Friday against Golden State.