After his worst performance of the season with six points on 2-of-15 shooting in a 96-95 loss to San Antonio last Wednesday, Irving headed into the All-Star weekend intent on leaving his mark.
He certainly did that in Houston, scoring 32 in the Rising Stars Challenge, winning the 3-point contest and finishing with 15 points in his first All-Star game.
Now the 2011-12 rookie of the year will try to carry that momentum into the second half.
"(The) weekend was just basically about earning everybody's respect, and getting a chance for people to see me that don't usually see me,'' Irving said.
Irving is sixth in the league in scoring at 23.5 points per game, and averaged 26.2 points while shooting 51.6 percent in his previous 10 games before his clunker against the Spurs. However, he had a similar performance with six points on 2-of-13 shooting in an 89-84 home loss to New Orleans last February.
The Hornets' 2012 first overall pick, meanwhile, looks to build off his recent success following the worst stretch of his rookie season.
After averaging 4.8 points while shooting 29.0 percent over a four-game span, Davis bounced back with 21 and 11 rebounds in a 99-63 win over Portland last Wednesday and 15 points and 10 boards in a 96-87 loss to Chicago on Tuesday.
New Orleans (19-35) has also been playing better lately, winning four of its last five and 12 of 21 before losing to the Bulls.
"That's the best thing about the NBA," point guard Greivis Vasquez said. "We have another one tomorrow, and we get to get over this."
The Hornets averaged 101.0 points while hitting 29 of 62 (46.8 percent) from 3-point range over a four-game stretch before making just 4 of 17 from long range on Tuesday.
They may be able to get back on track against the Cavaliers, who have allowed 105.6 points per game on 50.5 percent shooting over their last eight.
New Orleans, though, is expected to be without Eric Gordon, who has averaged 22.0 points and made 15 of 30 from beyond the arc in five career games against Cleveland. Gordon, who had a team-high 20 points Tuesday, has not played in the second end of back-to-back games since returning from a right knee injury that cost him the first 29 games.
Following its best stretch of the season with six wins in eight games, Cleveland (16-37) stumbled into the break with three consecutive home losses.
The Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson hopes to continue his strong play from the past month. The second-year forward has averaged 15.6 points on 52.9 percent shooting in his last 14 games.
Cleveland has scored 107.7 per game - 10.7 above its season average - in its last six, and will try continue that pace against a New Orleans team that has allowed an average of 81.7 points in its last three.
The Hornets have outscored the Cavaliers by an average of 13.4 points in the paint in their three straight wins in this series, the last two of which have been in Cleveland.
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- Cleveland Cavaliers
- New Orleans Hornets
- New Orleans
- Kyrie Irving