EditorsNote: Resending per client’s request
Smith, Love lift Cavs past Mavs
DALLAS — With LeBron James struggling to find his groove offensively, the Cleveland Cavaliers rode J.R. Smith’s outside shooting and Kevin Love’s ninth double-double of the season to turn away the feisty and desperate Dallas Mavericks, 111-104, on Saturday night at the American Airlines Center.
Love barely missed matching season highs of 32 points and 16 rebounds on Tuesday against Milwaukee with a game-high 29 points and 15 rebounds against Dallas. Smith buried four 3-pointers for 17 points and James put together a strong final quarter at both ends to finish with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
The Mavs (2-11) were desperate to get something positive going on their home floor, but fell to 1-6 there despite rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter and getting as close as 104-102 with 62 seconds to play.
Dallas missed three shots for the lead in the final six minutes, including a pair of 3-pointers from leading scorer Harrison Barnes, and managed to shoot just 42.4 percent against a Cavs defense that routinely has been surrendering more than 110 points a game.
The Mavs shot just 29.4 percent (10 of 34) from beyond the arc.
It was Dallas’ sixth loss of the season by seven points or less.
Cleveland (6-7) got 13 points off the bench from Kyle Korver, all coming in the decisive fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws with 36.8 seconds left after he grabbed a crucial defensive rebound. Jae Crowder haunted his former team with 15 points and seven rebounds.
“With this group ... we know each player is capable of having a big night any time,” Crowder told reporters after the game. “So be aggressive and be confident in yourself.”
Barnes led Dallas with 23 points. Point guard Dennis Smith Jr., a rookie of the year candidate, had 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds, but had a couple of aggressive plays he couldn’t convert late that might have given Dallas back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Dirk Nowitzki finished with 14 points and Wesley Matthews had 12.
“I mean, we lost. We had our chances and I thought we fought at times, but we had some bad stretches,” Nowitzki said. “We fought through it again and we were right there in the end, but a loss is a loss in this league,”
Afterward, James complimented the rookie out of North Carolina State, calling him an “unbelievable talent,” while jabbing the long-suffering New York Knicks, who picked one slot ahead of Dallas in the draft, and passed on Smith Jr.
“The Knicks passed on a really good one and Dallas got the diamond in the rough. He should be a Knick,” James said. “That’s going to make some headlines, but he should be a Knick but Dallas is definitely excited he didn’t go there. He’s an unbelievable talent.”
The Mavs got off to a 16-6 lead and took a three-point advantage into halftime. But the Cavs regained the lead with a 15-2 run during a 34-point third quarter and managed to hold on down the stretch.
“I thought early in the first half some of our transition baskets led up to what happened towards the end of the game,” Barnes said. “We battled, we competed, but it’s never what happens in those last few minutes that dictate the game. It’s what you do earlier, and unfortunately the deficit that we built we couldn’t really get past it.”
NOTES: Cavaliers G Derrick Rose missed his second consecutive game — and sixth in 13 games — with a left ankle injury. He is unlikely to be available for the remaining two games of this road trip. ... G Iman Shumpert started in Rose’s place. ... G J.R. Smith’s four 3-pointers tied him with Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki for 13th on the NBA’s all-time 3-point list. Nowitzki made two, giving both players 1,797. ... Mavs G Devin Harris left the game in the second half with bruised ribs and did not return. ... Dallas C Nerlens Noel did not play for the first time this season.