As soon as Kevin Durant went down with an injury, the spotlight was instantly set on Kyrie Irving. The enigmatic point guard saw his name called out in the media as the pundits demanded that he step up for the Brooklyn Nets in KD’s stead.
Well, Kyrie did just that on Friday night as he exploded for a season-high 48 points against the Phoenix Suns to lead Brooklyn to their first win since Durant’s injury. It was the perfect response from Irving, who also said that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win. As it turns out, this includes dropping 50 every game if he needed to:
“I don’t think [50 points nightly] is an unrealistic expectation,” Irving said, only half-joking, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “I have the trust from [coach] Jacque [Vaughn] to be able to make plays down the stretch. … We’ve been able to develop a dialogue that continues to grow game-to-game. So it gives me a lot of confidence in the fourth quarter to be able to perform that way.”
This was exactly the case for the Nets on Friday as they went to Irving early and often throughout the evening. Their strategy worked out, and it resulted in a career night for the seven-time All-Star.
After the game, Kyrie Irving also said that one of the main reasons behind his eruption is the fact he’s been locked in of late. His laser focus has rubbed off on his teammates and they’ve all noticed the change in attitude from their talisman:
“It’s like he’s in a different world. He’s locked-in. He’s in a different type of zone and makes those big shots time and time again,” Nic Claxton said of Irving.
Kyrie knows that he’s been placed in an excellent position to truly show what he’s capable of. He’s obviously not happy that KD is out injured, but Irving is more than willing to take the challenge head-on:
“I talked about just getting out of my own way and really thinking team first and put my body on the line and leading by example. … When I could get it going on defense and do the little things, it really makes a difference for me and I’m dialed in,” said Irving.
“That’s the foundation of us growing throughout this process is me getting out of my own way and allowing the other guys to help. …The ups and downs are going to come and go, but we have to stay poised and consistent. And it starts with me showing up every day and leading by example, and putting my body on the line and doing whatever it takes to win.”
Kyrie Irving has another tremendous opportunity to make a statement on Sunday when the Nets battle Stephen Curry and the defending champions Golden State Warriors. Another win for Kyrie and Co. against a formidable opponent will have the pundits buzzing, no doubt.