Irving's magic leads Cavaliers past Nuggets 100-99
BY JEREMY SOMERVILLE
With baseball less than a month away in the city by the shores of Lake Erie, we need to remember how important it is to have a good closer.
Only, we aren’t talking about Indians closer Chris Perez.
We are talking about Cavaliers rookie, and team closer, Kyrie Irving.
The 6’3” point guard out of Duke, showed us why he is Mr. Fourth Quarter once again, as his lay in with 4.0 seconds remaining helped his team end a six-game skid tonight in Denver, with a narrow 100-99 victory over the Nuggets (22-18).
The Cavs (14-23) began the game much like they did against Utah on Monday, slow and lethargic, but this time there was one Cavalier who took the team on his back to keep them in the game early.
That man was veteran forward Antawn Jamison, who scored 14 of the teams first 19 points, to keep them in a tight contest with the Nuggets early in the first quarter.
Jamison continued his torrid start in the second quarter, as he returned from a brief stint on the bench, to score 12 second quarter points to help the Cavs head into the half with a 57-55 lead in the mile high city.
The teams continued to trade baskets throughout the second half. The game featured 15 ties and 25 lead changes, with neither team showing an ability to pull away, or capitalize on mistakes.
Six of the lead changes came in the game’s final three minutes.
With just under three minutes remaining, Denver power forward Al Harrington broke an 88 all tie with a fade away jumper, for two of his team-high 22 points, that gave Denver a 90-88 lead.
The Cavaliers answered right back as the closer, Mr. Fourth Quarter, Kyrie Irving used dazzling foot work to spin to the basket and drop the ball in the hoop after drawing a foul.
Irving drained the free throw and gave his team a 91-90 lead with 2:36 left.
Denver point guard Ty Lawson, who battled Irving all night on his way to scoring 15 points and dishing out 6 dimes, came right back at the Cavaliers star and made an and one of his own to give Denver the lead once again at 93-91 with just about two minutes left in the game.
The Cavaliers next possession proved that every little thing matters in crunch time.
After veteran Anthony Parker looked to have squandered the possession with a bad pass, resulting in a turnover, the Nuggets had their opportunity to capitalize on the mistake and open up a four point lead.
However, the young Cavaliers had other plans.
As Denver reached their basket on the break, Cavs forward Alonzo Gee swatted the ball from Nuggets center Nene, directly into the hands of Parker. Parker turned his head up court to the speeding Irving, who took the ball straight to the hoop for another and one opportunity.
Irving finished off the three-point play, once again putting his team in the lead, this time at 94-93.
Following an Irving layup with 24.0 seconds remaining, Denver took over, down 98-97.
The Nuggets wasted no time on the possession, as they went directly into the 6’11” 250 pound Nene, who was guarded by 6’9” 225 pound, Cavalier rookie, Tristan Thompson. Thompson proved to be no match for the Brazilian monster, as Nene took the ball straight at Tristan and to the hole finishing with a lay in that gave the Nuggets a 99-98 advantage with just 15.1 seconds remaining in the game.
After a timeout, the Cavaliers inbounded the ball on the far end of the court, with only seconds to spare.
The ball went into Parker, who was immediately trapped, before he found Irving. Irving, who was being followed by two Nuggets, was barely able to get the ball past the timeline before the eight second rule was called. Once crossing the timeline, Irving’s killer instinct kicked in as he headed straight to the hoop and the heart of the Denver defense.
He cut through the defense, like a hot knife through butter, reaching the cup, laying the ball up and in to give his team a 100-99 lead with only four seconds remaining.
Denver called a timeout to draw up once more play, but fell short as Irving bodied up Lawson to throw off his lay in attempt, to give his team the victory, ending their six game skid with a huge 100-99 road victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Irving finished with 18 points and eight assists, Gee chipped in with 19, and Jamison led the Cavaliers with 33.
The Cavaliers are off tomorrow, but will practice in Denver, before heading to Oklahoma City for a match up with the Thunder on Friday night.
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POSTED 03/08/2012 00:39