Irving leads LeBron-less Cavaliers over Mavericks 99-98

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Kyrie Irving (Photo: Jen Steer/Fox 8 News)

CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving scored 33 points and made a key steal in the closing seconds, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers —without resting LeBron James — to a 99-98 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

James was given the night off by coach Tyronn Lue as part of his plans to keep Cleveland’s starters fresh for the playoffs. The Cavs hardly missed their star until the Mavericks stormed back from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Dallas had several chances to take the lead, but the Mavericks missed two open 3-pointers and had a costly turnover before Irving swiped a pass intended for Dirk Nowitzki with 2.9 seconds left. Irving was fouled and made two free throws before Dallas’ Deron Williams hit a 3-pointer at the final horn to conclude a frenzied finish.

Kevin Love had 23 points and 18 rebounds for the Cavs, who are 4-12 in games without James over the past two seasons.