Published on Feb 23, 2013
THE FACTS: All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving scored 20 of his game-high 35 points in the final seven minutes, powering the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 105-100 victory over the New Orleans Hornets Wednesday night. Irving also had seven assists and five rebounds in Cleveland's lone national television appearance of the season. Shooting guard Dion Waiters added 16 points for the Cavaliers (17-37), while power forward Tristan Thompson had nine points and a game-best 13 rebounds. Shooting guard Brian Roberts led New Orleans (19-36) with a career-high tying 17 points off the bench, while center Robin Lopez scored 15 points.
QUOTABLE: "The fourth quarter is when your leader and go-to guy steps up. We just try to space out the floor and let Kyrie do his thing. We know he's going to make the right plays for his teammates and himself."
-- Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson
THE STAT: Irving amassed 28 points in the second half, the most in his two-year professional career. He shot 10-for-15 from the field, including 1-for-3 on 3-pointers, and 7-for-7 from the foul line in just 19 minutes after intermission. "It all comes down to the trust my teammates have in me to make plays," said Irving, whose 20 fourth-quarter points were one shy of his best period in the NBA. "And when it's winning time -- the fourth quarter -- obviously, I want to win."
TURNING POINT: The Hornets held a 78-74 lead with 6:45 left before Irving took over. The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year scored 18 of Cleveland's next 20 points in just 4:57, which put the Cavaliers in front 94-85. Irving even took a charge from the 7-foot, 255-pound Lopez that fouled him out of the game with 3:21 on the clock. "Irving's penetration was second to none tonight," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "He got to the basket whenever he tried to, especially late."
QUOTABLE II: "Kyrie really took the game over and put his team on his back. But we did a bad job trying to be physical with him. We just let him walk in the lane and get buckets. You've got to take some hard fouls and make guys earn it."
-- Hornets shooting guard Austin Rivers
HOT: The Cavaliers averaged 107.3 points during their seven-game homestand, which they finished with a 4-3 record. ... Irving is averaging 24.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists over his last 21 games, while shooting .466 on 3-pointers and .906 on free throws. ... Waiters and Irving combined to shoot 19-for-32 from the floor with 10 assists. ... Cleveland only committed eight turnovers and didn't make a miscue on its final 27 possessions. .. Hornets power forward Al-Farouq Aminu grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked two shots. ... Roberts scored 17 points in just 11 minutes off the bench, making seven of his eight field goal attempts.
QUOTABLE III: "You can't let guys get in a rhythm like Kyrie did, because it's hard to stop them when they get going. We should have kept him out in front of us, but we were all like half a step behind on defensive possessions."
-- Hornets small forward Al-Farouq Aminu
GOOD MOVE: Williams praised Hornets centers Jason Smith and Lopez for "trying to take some hard fouls" on Irving before criticizing the rest of his squad for not doing so. "Our other bigs didn't even attempt to give him any resistance at the basket," Williams said. The coach was clearly sending a message to No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis and Anderson, who were passive at best defensively.
UP NEXT: For the Hornets, Friday vs. Dallas, Sunday vs. Sacramento, Tuesday vs. Brooklyn. For the Cavaliers, Saturday @ Orlando, Sunday @ Miami, Tuesday @ Chicago.
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