No LeBron James? No problem for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kyrie Irving took over and sealed Wednesday night’s 99-98 win against the visiting Dallas Mavericks with LBJ resting.
The Cavs blew a pair of 20-point leads, but eventually hung on for a tough W.
Kevin Love added 23 points and 18 rebounds.
Per the Akron Beacon Journal:
He scored 33 points and passed for one assist, that coming in the third quarter on a Love 3-pointer that pushed the lead back to 74-54. Then it was right back to dribbling and shooting, dribbling and shooting as the Mavericks whittled the lead down to one possession. […] Of course, there was the game last season when Irving had 34 points and no assists in a loss at the Utah Jazz. James famously told him afterwards that can’t happen again; he can never go through another game without an assist. So what’s the difference between 34-0 and 33-1? Not much.
“I was just doing whatever it took to win,” Irving said. “A couple shots, a couple iso plays that I normally make, they were forcing me to take long jump shots, which I happily obliged because most of the time I feel confident in making those.”
“I just told Ky, I need him to be aggressive. I need him to look to score and his aggressiveness will open up his passing,” (Tyronn) Lue said. “With LeBron out, we’re losing 25 points. We needed Kevin and Kyrie to step up and score the basketball for us and that’s what they did.” […] I spoke to James about this in late January, coincidentally following a win at Dallas. James spent all of last season and most of this season trying to get Irving to understand how to create shots for others. Sometimes it seems as if Irving is listening, sometimes it doesn’t. “I just wanted him to understand that he could mean so much more to our team by also being a playmaker for the guys that can’t play-make for themselves at times,” James told me then. “Obviously, he’s able to go through two and three guys every single possession if he wants… My game earlier in the season last year was all predicated on figuring out how to get these guys, and mostly Kyrie, to understand how important it is getting other guys involved.”