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CLEVELAND -- Rookie Kyrie Irving made a driving layup in traffic with 15.8 seconds left to secure the Cleveland Cavaliers' 91-88 win over the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.
Irving, who is showing a knack for last-second drama in his first season, finished with 20 points, and Anderson Varejao added 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Cavs.
After Irving's layup, Jason Terry missed an off-balance 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left for Dallas. After a replay review gave the Mavericks a final chance, Brandan Wright missed a desperation shot at the horn. The Mavericks didn't score a field goal in the final 4:13.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points and passed Elgin Baylor for 22nd place on the NBA's scoring list.
Before hitting his late layup, Irving made a similar one -- after Varejao's seventh offensive rebound -- with 2:36 left to give the Cavs an 87-86 lead.
The Mavericks, who were so efficient on the way to their title last season, seemed lost on offense in the closing minutes. Terry missed with 2:14 to go, and he made a bad pass in the lane to a cutting Nowitzki, who then had his own miss with one minute left.
Varejao dropped a runner in the lane to put the Cavaliers ahead 89-86 with 41.4 seconds left. Terry's two free throws got the Mavericks within one, and that's when Irving, Cleveland's young star, put the game in his hands.
He drove the left side, created some space near the basket, and flipped in his shot right-handed off the glass.
Down by eight at halftime and playing ragged offensively, the Cavaliers reeled off 13 straight points in the third quarter, in which they outscored the Mavericks 27-13 and somehow took a 70-64 lead into the fourth.
The Cavs scored only 15 points in the first quarter, when they shot 22 percent (6 of 27).
It didn't get much better for Cleveland in the second quarter, but the Cavs only trailed 51-43 at halftime.