Kyrie Irving dropped 30 points on the Wizards back on Wednesday, exactly two weeks after making his season debut as a part-time player, but he didn’t feel he was back to his typical self, citing the need to maintain his legs through the second half.
He had a point, as he scored just eight of those 30 points in the second half while opening up the fourth quarter with a pair of airballs. But the superstar point guard more than addressed that needed improvement on Friday.
Irving helped the Nets blow past the Spurs in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of his 24 points while shooting 6-for-9 from the field and 2-for-3 from downtown. Irving played over 35 minutes, and showed no signs of losing his bounce down the stretch, one of the final hurdles for him to get back to his star self.
“For sure, it was a breakthrough,” teammate James Harden said of Irving’s breakout fourth quarter. “He’s capable of doing that, man, at any moment, at any point in the game. And that’s one of the reasons we need him every single game: Because he’s able to do that, especially with everything that’s going on with our team.
“But he’s more than capable of doing things like that whenever he wants. I think he just tries to get us involved a little bit more. But yeah, he’s a special talent.”
Harden was enjoying his own dominance in the third quarter, but eventually, he wanted to see Irving take over himself.
“James kinda yelled at me,” Irving laughed. “Not a negative yell, but he yelled at me, ‘Ky! Get the effin ball!’ in the third quarter after he’d scored. I don’t know how many he scored in the third quarter. So I kind of took that personal, and just came out in the fourth quarter with an aggressive mindset and just played off the flow of the offense.”
Brooklyn will only have Irving for road games, but it will need every bit of its star during those games while Kevin Durant remains out. But Irving appeared to check off his last box for finding his way back to his peak potential, which should strike fear in the rest of the league.
“Kyrie is an assassin,” head coach Steve Nash said. “Just being able to create offense for himself.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1