The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

February 2, 2013

Irving's 35 lifts Cavs over OKC

CLEVELAND —  Kyrie Irving scored 35 points, including 13 in the final 2:52, and the Cleveland Cavaliers stunned the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-110 on Saturday.

One night after saying he was “disinterested” during a loss in Detroit, Irving was simply spectacular down the stretch. He single-handedly closed out one of the NBA’s best teams, making his last five shots and showing why he’s an All-Star at age 20. Irving’s biggest shot was a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left to make it 113-108.

Kevin Durant scored 32 points and Russell Westbrook had 28 for the Thunder, who came in 35-11 and with the league’s best road record. Durant left briefly in the third quarter with an apparent back injury.

Marreese Speights scored 21 points, including eight straight in the fourth when Cleveland’s reserves opened a lead.

Tristan Thompson added 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who had played so poorly in consecutive losses to Golden State and Detroit.

With the Cavs trailing 101-100, Irving drew a foul and hit two free throws. On Cleveland’ next possession, he drove and dropped a layup to make it 104-101. Durant’s two free throws brought the Thunder within one, but Irving, dribbling between his legs and around Oklahoma City’s defenders, hit a floater from the baseline.

Westbrook scored seconds later, and after Thompson scored for Cleveland, Durant cooly buried a 3-pointer to tie it at 108 with 1:26 remaining.

Then, with a sold-out Quicken Loans Arena quaking the way it once did when LeBron James starred here, Irving dribbled through the lane, bought some room with a ridiculous hesitiation move and hit another layup. Durant missed a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left, giving Irving a chance to ice it.And that he did, burying a long 3 and clenching both fists.

Durant got the Thunder to 113-110, but Irving did it again, this time knocking down a bank shot to cap a performance none of the 20,562 fans on hand will forget.

The Thunder surrendered in the final seconds, and after the horn sounded, Westbrook wrapped his arms around Irving, who had gotten the best of him.

“He came through in the fourth quarter,” Durant said of Irving. “He hit some big shots. He hit a tough 3. He was getting to the rim. He’s a quick guy.”

Durant appeared to injure his lower back in the third while hustling back on defense. He stayed in the game for two minutes before he was escorted to the locker room, grabbing his right side. When he left, the Thunder led by five but by the time he returned to the bench with 9:55 remaining, the Cavaliers had tied it at 81.

Following the game, Durant said he was fine.

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