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Kyrie Irving Scores 50 Points In Brooklyn Nets Debut

Clutch guard puts Nets ahead three times late in fourth quarter

Kyrie Irving got to the place he wanted to be and gave just about all you could ask for in his Brooklyn Nets debut. In the moments before he lined up before his first regular-season tip-off as a Net, Irving took the microphone to address the Barclays Center crowd and welcome them to the 2019-20 season.

He took a beat halfway through his quick greeting.

“Oh man,” said Irving, “I’m sorry, it’s just hitting me now.”

“It was incredible,” said Irving of the moment. “Just eight years being in different places, experiencing different things in the NBA. Lot of ups and downs and just to come to this moment today to be here with my family, be here most importantly with my teammates, it just hit me beforehand, before the game. I wasn’t trying to get too emotional or anything like that. Just a Jersey kid playing for his home team. There’s nothing like it. This has been brewing since I was in fourth grade. I didn’t know it was going to happen at this point or this age, but it’s here, and I just want to take full advantage of it and be happy and have a sense of gratitude every time I step on the floor and wear that Nets uniform.”

Irving brought an All-NBA resume and a string of All-Star Game appearances to Brooklyn, then delivered a performance to match the excitement his arrival has generated, even in a 127-126 overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

His 50-point performance included three go-ahead shots in the final three minutes of regulation from a player who was one of the NBA’s best in clutch situations last season. It was the third career 50-point game for Irving, who made 17-of-33 shots, including 7-of-14 3-pointers. He added eight rebounds and seven assists in 38 minutes.

“Job wasn’t done,” said Irving. “That 50 just goes into just another few numbers that, it holds value, but not really when you don’t get a win. So you want to come out and play the game just with a rhythm and we needed it in the first half and also the second half those guys my teammates stepped up in major ways defensively and obviously some missed opportunities underneath the rim or some open shots. We’ll knock ‘em down and we’ll keep being aggressive. None of that stuff matters unless you get a win. The race is to get as many wins as you can in an 82 game span and put yourself in position down the strertch. We’ve got 81 more to go and we’ll just take it day by day.”

He got off to a crisp start, making five of his first seven shots, including two 3-pointers, for 12 points in the game’s first eight minutes. Irving had 25 at halftime after combining with Caris LeVert to get the Brooklyn offense back in sync in the second quarter.

There was plenty more coming.

Brooklyn’s surge to open the third quarter wiped out the remainder of an 18-point deficit, and by the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, the Nets were up eight. After the Timberwolves regained the lead, Irving scored 11 of Brooklyn’s final 13 points of regulation, and assisted on the other basket.

He put the Nets back up on top 109-108 with a 3-pointer with 2:15 to go, made three free throws after Minnesota went back on top, then answered the bell again with an electrifying step-back three for a 115-112 lead.

In the end, the Nets couldn’t quite finish the deal. Irving set up Jarrett Allen in the lane in the final seconds of regulation, but Allen couldn’t convert either free throw after being fouled. On the final possession in overtime, Irving lost his footing trying to make a move into the lane at the elbow and his shot was off the mark.

“I fell,” said Irving. “I was in the process of making another move and just lost my footing, lost my balance. Somehow I got it back. Just got to get my elbow pointed at the rim. I had a better chance of making it, was a right a little bit. Just got to tuck in the elbow a little bit have a better chance. You lose balance like that you try to get your bearings really quickly. That’s what happened. I give credit to him, but obviously just losing my balance made a big difference.”

The day also marked the one-year anniversary of Irving’s grandfather’s passing, and that was something he carried with him to the arena as well.

“I was trying to play as cool as I could,” said Irving. “Really it was going to be a tough day regardless. Yesterday was a little bit harder than today just talking to my grandmother, talking to my dad, talking to my sister. But today like I said I made a conscious choice when I woke up just to be grateful for the day and every day going forward. He was there with me and when you have guys like this and you come in the locker room and they’re ready to protect you from anything and everything. Even when I missed my last shot, you saw my teammates run all the way down from the bench and surround just a bunch of love like, ‘we got you.’ There’s no better feeling than that, having your brothers pick you up. I’m just looking forward to growing with them moving forward.”

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