HOUSTON: The Rockets scored 11 consecutive points in the third quarter after the Cavs took a brief lead, and the latest lineup change had little impact on a team losing its grip on the season.
Jarrett Jack started and Kyrie Irving played off the ball more on Saturday, but the Cavs still lost to the Houston Rockets 106-92. The Cavs have now dropped four straight and six of their last seven since returning home from a fairly successful West Coast trip.
Luol Deng had 24 points, Irving had 21 points, seven assists and six turnovers and Dion Waiters had 19 points off the bench.
A layup by Deng gave the Cavs a brief 63-61 lead with nine minutes left in the third quarter after they’d fought back from a 19-point deficit, but Dwight Howard countered with a basket, James Harden made a 3-pointer and soon the lead was back to double figures.
Jeremy Lin had 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists off the bench for his first career triple-double, Harden had 28 points in his return from a thumb injury and Howard had 26 points on an efficient 10-for-12 night shooting.
Anderson Varejao missed his third consecutive game with a knee injury, although Tristan Thompson played on a sore ankle and had six points and seven rebounds.
C.J. Miles returned to his bench role, but struggled through a 1-for-6 shooting night in 11 minutes.
Thompson’s ankle was still sore Saturday morning — but it wasn’t because of J.R. Smith’s crossover. Thompson went down Thursday night against the Knicks following a Smith crossover, but Thompson said it was because he stepped on Tyler Zeller’s foot and rolled his ankle.
“J.R. Smith is not going to drop me,” Thompson said. “I’ve got good feet. I’ve got some good defense on the wing. He can’t drop me. I fell on Tyler’s foot. I’m going to let that be known.”
Thompson and Smith went to the same high school, St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey, and Thompson joked he’ll be looking for payback when the Cavs and Knicks play again in March at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I’m a social media star for about 24 hours,” Thompson said. “But now that Kenneth Faried got dunked on [by Toronto’s Terrence Ross], I’m off the hook.”
Thompson has now played in 171 consecutive games, the sixth-longest active streak in the NBA.
Bynum can help
Mike Brown said Andrew Bynum can help a veteran team like the Pacers. Bynum’s signing with the Pacers became official on Saturday.
“They play a certain style and they’ve been playing that style for a while,” Brown said. “They’re used to it because they have a guy like [Roy] Hibbert. So he should fit in pretty well for them.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com.