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Wrap-Up – If an opponent is going to give Kyrie Irving three opportunities at hitting the game-winner, it’s just a matter of time until the Cavs All-Star does exactly that. And on Saturday night, Kyrie closed out the second overtime – cutting through the Sixers defense and hitting the game-winning layup with 0.6 to play to give Cleveland the thrilling 127-125 win at The Q.
Irving – who narrowly missed game-deciding shots at the end of regulation and the first extra-session – was nearly unstoppable on Saturday night, going off for a season-high 39 points to go with a team-high 12 assists and five boards. He was one of three Cavaliers to double-up in the victory, joined by Tristan Thompson, who finished with 19 points and 10 boards and Anderson Varejao, who netted 13 points and 10 boards of his own. Dion Waiters came up just as big, adding 24 points, eight boards, six assists and a game-high four steals. Jarrett Jack played almost the entire fourth quarter and both overtimes as part of Cleveland’s efficient three-guard rotation, finished with 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting.
The resilient Sixers tied the affair at the end of the first OT period on a twisting layup by Evan Turner and knotted the second session on a Michael Carter-Williams’ trey with 11.3 to play. But on the final possession of the evening, Irving cut through four Sixers and laid home the game-winner just beyond the outstretched arms of Philly’s Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young.
Turning Point – Jarrett Jack hit some huge shots on Saturday night, but the bucket that seemed to galvanize the Cavs came midway through the fourth quarter, capping a 15-5 run that helped the Wine and Gold erase a 10-point Sixers’ edge. Jack’s three-pointer with 8:18 to play got Cleveland to within one, 87-86, and his 17-footer tied the affair moments later. Kyrie Irving’s and-1 after a Carter-Williams bucket gave the Cavs a lead they’d cling to until the early seconds of the second overtime.
Game Ball – Kyrie Irving – The Cavaliers had several heroic performances on Saturday. Waiters and Jack has season-high scoring nights and Varejao and Thompson notched double-doubles, but Kyrie was simply the best of the best. The third-year guard from Duke was 15-of-33 from the floor, including 5-of-12 from long distance. Kyrie notched 25 of his 39 points after intermission, was 4-of-5 from the stripe and committed just three miscues in over 48 minutes of floor time.
By the Numbers – 83 … combined points produced by the three guards – Irving, Waiters, Jack – who finished the game for Cleveland in Saturday’s win over Philly
Quotable – Head Coach Mike Brown, on Kyrie’s three shots at winning the game …
”(Kyrie)’s a spectacular player and I thought each time, he took the right shot. I applaud him for trying to close the game the right way. He believed in himself. He believed in his teammates, the system and the coaches throughout the course of the game. When it was on the line, we put it in his hands so he can have an opportunity to go and get it – and he got it for us.”
Up Next – After another quick stopover at The Q, the Wine and Gold get back on the road this week. On Monday, Kyrie and the Cavaliers get their first look this season at Derek Rose and the Bulls in the Windy City. They travel to the Twin Cities on Wednesday to face a Timberwolves team they topped nine days previously. The Cavs return home for a Friday night matchup with the Charlotte Bobcats – their fourth meeting this year, including preseason – and travel to the nation’s capital on Saturday to face off against John Wall and the Wizards.
Watch Highlights: Cavs 127, Sixers 125