Kyrie Irving didn't head into the All-Star break on a positive note, but the young Cleveland Cavaliers star made up for it with an exciting weekend.
Irving hopes to carry over a strong showing at the All-Star festivities into Wednesday's matchup with the New Orleans Hornets at Quicken Loans Arena. It will be the finale of a seven-game homestand (3-3) for the Cavs.
Irving, the reigning Rookie of the Year, scored 32 points in the Rising Stars Challenge Friday night and showed off his 3-point ability the following evening in winning the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout.
"I felt like I was a darkhorse in this competition," Irving said. "I just want to go out there and prove that I was one of the premiere shooters out here with all these guys ... Steve Novak and Matt Bonner. I never thought I'd beat those guys."
Irving is only the second Cavalier to win the Three-Point Shootout, joining sharp-shooter Mark Price. He then scored 15 points for the Eastern Conference in his first All-Star game.
Not that it was a surprise for Irving to shoot so comfortably over the weekend, but his last performance in a 96-95 loss to San Antonio last Wednesday didn't leave much to the imagination. The former Duke star made just 2-of-15 shots for a season-low six points and was averaging 25.4 ppg in his previous five contests.
Cavs rookie Dion Waiters led Cleveland with 20 points and six rebounds in the loss to the Spurs, and had 23 points in the Rising Stars Challenge. Waiters leads all Eastern Conference rookies in points per game (14.2), assists per game (3.2) and steals per game (1.1).
Cleveland has lost three in a row since winning three straight and is 9-16 as the host. The Cavs will begin a three-game road trip Saturday against Orlando, Miami and Chicago.
The Cavaliers are averaging 107.7 ppg in the first six games on the stand
New Orleans kicked off the second half of the season with Tuesday's 96-87 setback to the Chicago Bulls in the Big Easy.
Eric Gordon led the Hornets with 20 points and rookie Anthony Davis added 15 and 10 rebounds. Greivis Vasquez added a double-double of his own with 11 points and 10 assists for New Orleans, which had won two straight and four of its last five games.
"We just couldn't really punish them back. That's a physical team. Their big guys played extremely physical," Vasquez said of Chicago's tough defense.
The Hornets committed nine of their 15 turnovers in the final quarter.
Vasquez leads all guards with 21 double-doubles. Gordon may not play Wednesday since he's still fresh from returning from a knee ailment.
New Orleans, which owns a 10-19 away ledger, is scheduled to open a three-game homestand Friday versus Dallas, Sacramento and Brooklyn.
The Hornets and Cavaliers are meeting for the first time this season and will close out the series March 31 at New Orleans Arena. The Hornets took last season's only matchup, an 89-84 road win on Feb. 22, and have won three straight and six of the previous nine contests in this series.
Cleveland, though, is 8-3 in the past 11 as the host.