Mariano Rivera, who may have received the biggest applause of Saturday night, watched from the crowd at Barclays Center as another kind of New York closer took over.
When the Nets, playing without injured Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons, needed a late-game weapon, they had just one man to lean on: the NBA’s most fourth-quarter scorer.
Kyrie Irving emerged from the bench following a 3rd quarter breather and played the entire 4th quarter, scoring 21 of 32 points to take control of a game that the Nets were leveling at 122-115. defeated the Knicks. .
“I think he leads the league in scoring in the fourth quarter,” Nick Claxton said of Irving. He has his 356 points in the fourth quarter this season, and he has 9.4 points per game. “[We know Irving] Appears every fourth quarter. its big. “
Irving sat down 3:16 into the final third period, narrowing the Nets’ lead from 18 to 7 in his absence.
Irving, who consistently made extra passes in the first three quarters, controlled the offense in the fourth. He went 8-of-15 from the field and stopped the Knicks’ run after attempting 12 shots in his first three quarters combined. He took down Dagger after Dagger, including his 3-pointer on .
“As the game progresses, you get to understand what the team needs and what shots they need,” head coach Jack Vaughan said when asked to describe how great Irving is. “Whether it’s a two, a drive, a drive-and-kick. …I think he’s in a great position. [knowing] What is needed and he provides that need. “
When those daggers fell, the Nets’ dominance was just four points in the final two minutes. Irving finished with his 1:19 in the final as he scored nine points and effectively finished with a pair of triples.
On those first shots, Irving used his pivot foot to create space from Quentin Grimes to raise and sink the shot. On the Nets’ next possession, they milked the clock before Irving hit another tray, with 50.7 seconds to inflate the lead to 117-109.
“I’m not sure what you should do,” said RJ Barrett. “I mean, Quentin was playing great defense. Kyrie Irving.”
Irving, who shuttled between New Jersey and New York as a kid, has never lost to the Knicks while wearing a Nets uniform. He then recalled watching the rivalry growing up with his father or at a friend’s house and “admiring those playing in Madison Square Garden, the Continental Airlines arena.”
“For me, I love to beat the Knicks and play against them,” Irving said. “But the whole thing is just about winning ball games. Nothing personal.”