NEW YORK—Kyrie Irving’s Madison Square Garden mojo continued Wednesday as he scored 28 points in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 126-94 NBA rout of the New York Knicks.
Irving’s scoring average of 28.4 points in six games at the iconic Manhattan venue is his highest scoring average among all NBA arenas.
“I’ve loved this place since I was a kid sitting in the nosebleed seats,” Irving said. “Every time I come out here I want to put on a show for the fans. I never take it for granted.”
Cavs superstar LeBron James added 25 points and Kevin Love contributed 21 points as the reigning NBA champions followed up their 116-112 win over the Raptors in Toronto with a second road triumph.
The victories confirmed that the Cavaliers have put a three-game skid behind them.
It was the sixth time this season and the 16th time since the 2014-15 season that Irving, James and Love all scored at least 20 points in a game.
Meanwhile, it wasn’t always pretty, but Giannis Antetokounmpo posted his second triple-double of the season on Wednesday to help the Milwaukee Bucks to a 115-107 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Jabari Parker led the Bucks with 27 points, 10 of them in the third quarter as Milwaukee erased a seven-point halftime deficit.
After connecting on just three of 11 from three-point range in the first half, Milwaukee hit six from beyond the arc in the third.
Greek forward Antetokounmpo scored just one point in the period, but he pulled down three rebounds and handed out four assists.
He finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
“Some would say it wasn’t a pretty game for him,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “But he’s a winner and he helped his team find a way to win tonight by getting other guys involved.
“Being able to get a triple-double for us, I think his record is pretty good when he does that. He sets the tone for us, and again he set the tone for us today.
In another game Dwight Howard scored 23 points and pulled down 17 rebounds Wednesday to help the Atlanta Hawks end their seven-game NBA losing streak with a 103-95 victory over the Miami Heat.
“It was good to get the monkey off our backs, but we’ve got to keep working,” said Howard, who connected on nine of 11 shots from the floor and made five of six from the free-throw line.
Seven of his rebounds came on the offensive glass, and he added four assists and two blocked shots for good measure.
Defensively, Howard helped limit Miami’s Hassan Whiteside to just eight points – 10 fewer than his season average.
The Hawks also got 21 points and nine rebounds from forward Paul Millsap and 17 points and seven assists from Dennis Schroder.
Thabo Sefolosha contributed 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The victory stopped the rot, at least temporarily, for a team that started strong this season but had lost 10 of their last 11 games.
“It’s not fun,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “This group has a lot of pride and you need to win a game at some point. I still feel like we can get better.”
Howard, a three-time defensive player of the year who was acquired in the offseason by his hometown team, said the Hawks have plenty of time to recover their losses this season.
“Every team has that bump in the road. I’d rather have that bump now than later in the season. Now we’ve got a chance to get some good wins.”
Cleveland, who improved to 15-5, poured in 22 three-pointers, and center Tristan Thompson grabbed 20 rebounds for the second time in his career.
The Cavaliers have won six straight at Madison Square Garden and eight in a row overall against the Knicks.
With their latest win, they cooled off the hottest team in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks had won nine of their previous 12 games, but showed their fatigue a night after a 114-103 victory over the Heat in Miami.
“We didn’t have the same energy they did,” said Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek. “We’re not a big, strong team, so we have to rely on our quickness and we weren’t able to do that.”
With point guard Derrick Rose still sidelined after back spasms forced him out against the Heat, Brandon Jennings filled in and scored 16 points for the Knicks.
Courtney Lee added 15 but veteran star Carmelo Anthony was limited to eight points in 23 minutes on the floor.
James’s 19 first-half points, which helped the Cavs to a 63-48 halftime lead, were his most in a half this season.
He was all business after sparking comment by declining to stay with the rest of the team at the Trump SoHo hotel.
James, who backed Hillary Clinton in the US presidential race, insisted he was “not trying to make a statement” in opting not to stay in a hotel bearing the name of US President-elect Donald Trump.
“It’s just my personal preference,” he said. “At the end of the day, I hope he’s one of the best presidents ever, for all of our sakes – my family, for all of us. It’s just my personal preference.”
Matthew Dellavedova scored 17 points for Milwaukee, whose reserves contributed 40 points in the home win.
Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 30 points, while CJ McCollum added 23. Allen Crabbe had 14 off the bench for Portland and hit a three-pointer with just under a minute remaining that trimmed the deficit to four.
A turnaround hook by Aussie guard Dellavedova stretched the Bucks’ lead back to six points. Antetokounmpo and John Henson sank a pair of free throws each to close it out.
The Bucks, whose four-game winning streak was snapped Monday night against San Antonio, have won six of their last eight to improve to 11-9.
“We are rolling right now,” Antetokounmpo said.