Hornets-Cavaliers Preview


For only the second time this season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance to win three straight games.

The Cavaliers will accomplish that feat if they can avoid a third consecutive loss to the visiting New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.

It has not been easy, but for the first time since early January, Cleveland (13-17) has won two in a row. After star rookie Kyrie Irving hit a pair of free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining to give the Cavaliers a 93-92 win over Sacramento on Sunday, Cleveland overcame a 17-point deficit to beat Detroit 101-100 on Tuesday.

The Cavaliers have not won three straight contests since Nov. 5-9, 2010.

Antawn Jamison had 32 points with 10 rebounds while Irving scored 17 of his 25 in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers outscored the Pistons 35-23 in the final period. Third-year reserve Alonzo Gee, who injured his nose early in the contest, added 13 of his 16 points in the fourth.

"This was a big win for us," Irving told the Cavaliers' official website.

Irving, who will compete in the rookie/sophomore game and Skills Challenge during this weekend's All-Star festivities in Orlando, has averaged 21.8 points in four games since missing three with a concussion.

"He was the first overall pick in the draft for a reason,'' Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "He's an outstanding young player.''

Jamison, who has totaled 53 points and 18 rebounds in the last two games, has averaged 21.3 and 8.9 boards in 24 career contests against the Hornets' franchise.

Though Cleveland lost both meetings with New Orleans (7-25) last season, this year's Hornets' club has the worst record in the Western Conference with former stars Chris Paul and David West no longer in town.

"It's very important to go get another win," Gee said. "It will help us out and it's always good to win at home. It's pretty important for us."

Trevor Ariza scored 21 points and Jarrett Jack added 19 with 10 assists as New Orleans dropped its second straight contest following a season-high three-game winning streak, 117-108 in overtime at Indiana on Tuesday. The Hornets shot 53.2 percent, but were outscored 17-8 in the extra period to fall to 2-2 during a six-game road stretch that concludes after the All-Star break.

Though the Hornets give up 93.5 points per game, they are 0-21 when allowing at least 90. Tuesday marked just the third time in 2011-12 that New Orleans - averaging 88.1 points per contest - scored at least 100.

"People look at our record and think that we're not competing,'' Jack said. "It seems like it's been all season long that we come out really competitive, but just can't put a full 48-minute stretch together.''

Despite New Orleans' overall struggles this season, Jack is averaging a career-high 15.0 points while missing six games because of a sore knee. The veteran guard has totaled 37 points and 15 assists in the last two games off the bench, but has averaged 8.1 points in 15 career contests against the Hornets.