Kyrie Irving dominates the fourth quarter
|01.30.12 at 10:48 am ET|
Down by one, on the road in front of a raucous crowd, and there was time for one last possession. In Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott’s mind, he knew exactly who to give the ball too — his rookie point guard, Kyrie Irving.
“We put the ball in the last play of the game, and told him to go with about seven seconds,” Scott said. “I didn’t want him to go quick, I wanted to go for the win. And he was able to get to the basket.”
What happened next was a revelation. Irving announced to the rest league that he was a star, and did what star players in the NBA do, finish when it matters most. The goal was simple: get to the basket or force a defender to leave a teammate open, and Irving didn’t hesitate.
“I knew I wasn’t going to settle for a jump shot, that’s for sure,” Irving said. “I just wanted to go in and get the best look possible. Whether it be finding a teammate for a three or open lay up. Once I saw an opening, I took advantage of it and made the shot.”
Irving missed a similar shot against the Pacers earlier this season, but perhaps more importantly, even at the young age of 19, Irving wanted the opportunity.
“I told him to run a high pick and roll and just see what you can get,” said Scott. “He had the look in his eyes like he wanted it anyway. At that particular time, I wasn’t thinking about his age. I was just thinking about how pretty damn good he is with the ball in his hands.”
The standout rookie’s diving layup, with just over six seconds left in the game, gave Cleveland a 88-87 victory Sunday night in Boston, snapping the Celtics four-game winning in the process. With his father, Drederick — a Boston University Hall of Famer — sitting courtside the first overall pick in last year’s draft said his first game winning basket was a special moment.
The play was representative of the entire fourth quarter. The Celtics had issues with Irving and his two-man game off high-screens with Anderson Varejao all night.
“Defensively I thought we were solid throughout the game,” said Ray Allen. “But in that fourth quarter on the ball in pick and rolls we reverted where we didn’t take the ball out of Kyrie’s hands at least make him see more pressure and make him play under duress. He got to his spots and made the plays he needed to make for his team and I don’t think at any time we recognized that.”
Irving was anything but a rookie Sunday night. He played under control for most part (only committing three turnovers), and was efficient in his offensive approach, finishing with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Most impressively is down the stretch, with his team trailing by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, it was Irving who took his game to another level. He scored eight of the Cavaliers 26 fourth quarter points, only missing one of his four field goal attempts.
“I thought he dominated the fourth quarter,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “He single-handily in my opinion willed that win for them.”