Cavaliers can't overcome early deficit

CLEVELAND -- Having earned victories over the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves earlier in the week, the hot-shooting Houston Rockets rolled into Quicken Loans Arena and put up 101 points by the end of the third quarter in their 118-111 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday.

The Rockets (47-22), the fourth-best team in the Western Conference, have now scored 113 or more points in four straight games, while the Cavaliers (26-44) have allowed 100 or more points in eight of their last nine outings.

"Right now, I'm not sure what it is exactly," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "I know what it is when I look at it, but I don't know why we keep doing it.

"We've got to do a better job on both ends of the floor. I think both games (tonight and Thursday against Oklahoma City), we might've been outscored 17-4 in the first few minutes of the game, and you're playing some playoff teams. That's tough to come back from. That's real tough to come back from."

The Cavaliers looked as though they be able to cut into Houston's lead in the second half, as they started the third quarter on a 7-0 run, but the Rockets would not be grounded for long. Houston scored 36 points, outpaced the Cavaliers by 12 in the period, and reached the 100-point plateau when guard James Harden pulled up from the right wing while in transition and buried the long-range shot.

Harden finished with a game-high 37 points on nine-of-15 shooting. He had a double-double of 37 points and 11 assists at the end of the third quarter.

The Rockets started the game on a 7-2 run, which forced Brown to call a 20-second timeout only 79 seconds into the first quarter. And Houston's hot-shooting start continued when they stretched the lead out to 17-4 before a full timeout by the Cavaliers.

The Rockets made five of 11 shots from three-point range, and hit 14 of their 22 overall attempts from the floor.

In addition to shooting 63.6 percent from the floor, the Rockets assisted on 11 of their 14 made baskets, stole the ball from the Cavaliers three times and had four blocked shots. They outscored the Cavaliers, 18-14, in the paint, and 8-0 on fast breaks.

"We turned the ball over and they started to get us in transition," Brown said. "Between our turnovers and their particular ability to get out in transition and our inability to get back was the difference in the game. We talked about having the right floor balance, and our floor balance wasn't good during their little spurt."


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