Kevin Love contributed 17 points and six rebounds before fouling out with 2:01 left and J.R. Smith added 13 points. He was still wearing a James model shoe for extra bounce after they helped him to a slump-busting 20 Tuesday.
While the effort was there for the Cavs, the statistic that might bother them most was their 19 turnovers, nine by James, that turned into 38 Rockets' points. Conversely, the Rockets committed 22 -- 11 in the second period -- that led to 22 points for the Cavs. It marked the third time this season that James gave the ball away at least eight times.
The Cavs were without point guard Derrick Rose, sidelined with a sore left ankle, but Iman Shumpert started and continued to play well of late. Shumpert dished out a season-high five assists to go with seven points.
After the Cavs grabbed an 18-12 lead, the Rockets went on a turnover-aided 17-0 run. Then with 4:16 left in the first quarter, James went down after turning his left ankle, the same one that kept him out virtually all of training camp. The Cavs quickly called timeout as James stayed in the game.
The surge didn't end until James hit a fallaway at the 3:16 mark and by then the Rockets led 29-20.
The Cavs trailed 36-25 at the end of the first quarter, hitting just 2 of their last 11 field goal attempts in the period. They also lost six turnovers, which resulted in nine Rockets' points.
But the Cavs got back in the game thanks to Green, whose 20-point quarter was the best of his career. After not taking a shot in 4 1/2 minutes in the first period, Green went wild in the second, hitting 8-of-9 field goals, including his only 3-point attempt, and all three free throws.
But the Cavs also got angry, especially James, after the turnover call with the Cavs trailing 59-53 as what looked like a football game broke out. The incident turned up the level of physicality for both teams. James scored eight points to close out the quarter and had 16 in the period, one bucket coming on a vicious slam on a fast break when Smith fed the trailing James.
James had a minus-9 plus/minus rating in the first quarter and a plus-19 in the second.
The Cavs roared ahead 67-65 at the half as the Rockets turned the ball over 11 times in the second quarter and the Cavs profited for 22 points. The Cavs hit 17-of-23 field goals in the second period and had four turnovers that led to three points.