Luis Scola had 30 points and eight rebounds and Goran Dragic finished with 20 points and eight assists for the Rockets, who fell to 7-14 away from Space City this season and got 16 points from reserve Chase Budinger.
Houston will return to the Toyota Center to host Charlotte after its trip to Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City has already taken two of three meetings with Houston this season. The Rockets are winless in four straight games as the guest in this series.
"It was a great win," Cavs head coach Byron Scott said. "We got our confidence level back."
The Cavs are only 8-17 against Eastern Conference foes in 2011-12 and have dropped four straight meetings with those teams.
The Raptors suffered their fourth loss in six tries with Sunday's 105-99 defeat at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, as DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points to lead Toronto and Jerryd Bayless had 16.
Casey was referring to a 105-86 loss at Detroit on Saturday. Andrea Bargnani had 11 points in his second game back after missing 20 games with a calf injury. Bargnani, who had eight points against the Pistons, leads the Raptors with 21.7 ppg.
Toronto has beaten Cleveland twice already this season, but is 6-13 in the previous 19 matchups between the two clubs. The Raptors have dropped 13 of their last 17 trips to Quicken Loans Arena.
"We just want to continue getting better," Howard said. "We want to peak at the right time."
The Magic will be shooting for their third straight win as the host. Howard owns 34 double-doubles on the season.
Many fans thought it was the best side in the nation by the end of last season. This year, the polls have built on Georgia's momentum and granted it the No. 1 preseason ranking, followed by Ohio State and USC. (The Associated Press has the Buckeyes at No. 2; USA Today took the Trojans.)
"To have people believing we have one of the best teams in the nation going into this thing, it's exciting for us," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt told the AP. "I don't think anything is guaranteed, but we certainly have put ourselves in position where at least the college football world thinks we're pretty good."
Georgia Bulldogs - 9.5 wins
There's no question they're good, but the Bulldogs have one of the toughest 12-game schedules in the nation, mostly because they play in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference. Away games at No. 15 Arizona State, No. 7 LSU and No. 10 Auburn loom large, with contests between the hedges versus No. 24 Alabama and No. 18 Tennessee as well as the World's Largest Cocktail Party in Jacksonville versus No.5 Florida.
Ohio State Buckeyes - 10 wins
Like the Bulldogs, the Buckeyes also have a number of tough road contests in 2008. After two scrimmages dressed up as real games versus Youngstown State and Ohio, it's off to face USC. Other tough away games include No.13 Wisconsin in October and No. 20 Illinois in November. Granted, it should be pretty easy sledding at the Horseshoe. In fact, the only ranked team that travels to Columbus is No. 22 Penn State, in October.
USC Trojans - 10.5 wins
A similarly light schedule awaits the Trojans of Southern California, which is why the oddsmakers' total is one win more and the over is currently commanding -150 odds. Pete Carroll's troops only play three ranked teams in 2008, and all of those games are at home. After what should be an easy trip to Virginia to start things off on Aug. 30, the Trojans get two weeks to prepare for Ohio State in Los Angeles. Their two other ranked opponents, No. 21 Oregon and No. 15 Arizona State, visit in consecutive weeks to start the month of October. After that, the competition eases up. Of course, this is the same highly-touted school that lost to Stanford in 2007 and Oregon State in 2006. And don't discount the fact that USC plays its biggest rivals, Notre Dame and UCLA, back-to-back to close out the regular season. On paper, the Trojans are far superior, but motivation will be high for the Irish and Bruins, especially if their historic foes are in national-title contention.
Tim Tebow, Florida - 7/2
He won it last year, so it's no surprise he's the favorite to do it again, making him just the second player to go back-to-back. Ohio State's Archie Griffin turned the trick in 1974 and 1975, and Tebow's coach, Urban Meyer, is pretty sure his star quarterback can match the Buckeyes legend.
"There has never been anyone quite like him," Meyer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I am very lucky to be his coach."
Chris Wells, Ohio State - 5/1
The man they call "Beanie" was a star recruit out of high school, so it's not like nobody knew who the star tailback was before he rushed for 576 yards as a freshman in 2006 and 1,609 as a sophomore. But perhaps his finest moment came last year versus Michigan when he rumbled for 222 yards and two touchdowns in the Buckeyes' 14-3 victory over the hated Wolverines.
Knowshon Moreno, Georgia - 8/1
If the Bulldogs are to live up to expectations, they'll need a huge effort from their sophomore running back. This might be the last year of college ball for Moreno, who rushed for 1,334 yards and for 14 touchdowns as a freshman, while adding 253 receiving yards on 20 receptions, so expect big things for the man from Belford, N.J.
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In the wake of the news that the 49ers have signed receiver Michael Crabtree after an extended holdout, there has been not a hint of the dollars to be paid to Crabtree.
And since this means that his agent hasn't leaked the numbers, it means that his agent feels no specific motivation to do so.
Possibly because his agent isn't all that thrilled to have his name on the deal.
So the numbers will come from sources other than Crabtree's agent. And we've gotten our mitts into them.
Per a league source, Crabtree has signed a six-year, $32 million contract. (The total includes guaranteed money, base salaries, and the one-time incentive based on achieving minimum playing time.)
The deal also includes $17 million in guaranteed money.
As reported elsewhere, the deal can void to five years based on performance triggers, wiping out a final year base salary of $4 million. But they won't be easily reached.
The source tells us that, in his first four seasons (including 2009), Crabtree must either qualify for two Pro Bowls, or he must qualify for one Pro Bowl in one year and he must participate in 80 percent of the offensive snaps in a separate year in which the team makes the playoffs.
In other words, if in 2010 he qualifies for the Pro Bowl and the team makes the playoffs and he participates in 80 percent of the snaps, he'll still need to make it to the Pro Bowl or achieve the 80-percent/playoffs in another season.
Since the chances of Crabtree making the Pro Bowl or participating in 80 percent of the offensive snaps this year is roughly zero percent, he'll have three years to get it done.
And it won't be easy. Frankly, he'll be hard pressed to make it to one Pro Bowl in three years with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith, the other Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, DeSean Jackson, Johnny Knox, Percy Harvin, Greg Jennings, Roddy White, T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the same conference for sportsbook betting.
So, by all appearances, it's a six-year deal. And at $17 million in guaranteed money, the per-year guarantee is a tepid $2.83 million per year.
There's another problem with the deal -- it has no mid-tier incentive package. Instead, the additional $8 million that Crabtree can earn (pushing the max value to six years, $40 million) requires the kind of unrealistic, mega-star performances that no rookie is likely to ever achieve.
So while the contract paid to Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji covers five years and pays $22.5 million, he has the ability (if he's a solid player) to make up the difference between his base deal and Crabtree's five-year, $28 million haul via the mid-tier incentive package in Raji's deal.
And unless Crabtree meets the performance thresholds necessary to void the sixth year, he'll be stuck under contract for another year at a base salary of only $4 million.
There's one other area of concern with the deal. Crabtree, per the source, received no option bonus. Instead, he has significant money tied to a fairly new device known as a "discretionary salary advance," which unlike an opition bonus is subject to forfeiture if Crabtree decides in a year or two that he wants to hold out for a better deal. (We're also told that the 49ers have included language that would make certain escalators subject to forfeiture, too.)
Meanwhile, the deal falls well short of the mark for which Crabtree and agent Eugene Parker were aiming -- the five-year, $38.25 million contract paid by the Raiders to receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall pick in the draft.
Even if Crabtree successfully voids the final year, he'll make more than $2 million per year less on average than Heyward-Bey.
Thus, as we explained earlier in the day, this is a deal that Crabtree could have done in July, which would have given him a much better chance of making a contribution to the 49ers during his rookie year.
So while the final outcome can be described as win-win, the broader view suggests that it's really a lose-lose situation.