CLEVELAND: Kyrie Irving’s heave from beyond half-court bounced off the rim at the buzzer and the Cavaliers were pounded inside in a 97-94 loss to the Sacramento Kings after coach Byron Scott shuffled his starting lineup to no avail.
The Kings improved to 2-13 on the road despite missing two of their top three scorers in Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton.
In an effort to shake up a now 7-26 team and provide balance between the first and second units, Scott benched Dion Waiters and started C.J. Miles. Waiters responded with 20 points off the bench, although he shot 8 of 19, and Miles had 12 points as a starter – all in the first quarter.
The Cavs were pounded in the lane by the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson, who combined for 37 points and 26 rebounds. The Cavs are still without Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson and were outscored in the paint 52-36.
The game got away from the Cavs in the third quarter when they shot just 28 percent (7 of 25). They rallied with aggressive defense to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold on. The Cavs have lost three straight and travel to the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday.
Officials initially counted Irving's final heave, but replays indicated the ball was still in his hands when the clock hit all zeroes. The referees would have reviewed the shot had it fallen and likely would have overturned it, making a bad loss that much more crushing.