Nets’ Kyrie Irving makes the best impression of Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera, who might have received the biggest ovation of the night on Saturday, watched among the Barclays Center crowd as another guy from closer New York took over.

When the Nets, who were playing without the injured Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons, needed a late-game weapon, there was only one player to turn to – the most prolific scorer in the fourth quarter of the NBA.

Kyrie Irving came off the bench after a third quarter break to play the entire fourth quarter, scoring 21 of his 32 points to help the Nets take control of a game that was on the line and claim a 122-115 victory on the Knicks. .

“I think he leads the league in fourth-quarter points,” Nic Claxton said of Irving, who now has 356 fourth-quarter points this season, 9.4 per game. “[We know Irving] just going to pop up every time in the fourth quarter. It’s big.”

Irving sat out the final 3:16 of the third period, and while he was out, a Nets lead that had grown to 18 was reduced to seven.

Kyrie Irving, who scored 32 points, dribbles downfield in the Nets’ 122-115 win over the Knicks.
Robert Sabo for NY POST

Yankees legend Mariano Rivera had a front row seat to Kyrie Irving's 21-point outburst in the fourth quarter that helped the Nets eliminate the Knicks.
Yankees legend Mariano Rivera had a front row seat to Kyrie Irving’s 21-point outburst in the fourth quarter that helped the Nets eliminate the Knicks.
Robert Sabo for NY POST

Irving, who had always made the extra pass in the first three quarters, took control of the offense in the fourth. He went 8 for 15 from the field – having attempted a dozen shots in the first three quarters combined – and knocked down dagger after dagger, including a pair of 3-pointers in the final 90 seconds that stopped the Knicks’ runs .

“Being able to, as the game progresses, understand what the team needs and what shot is needed,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said when asked to describe Irving’s genius. . “Whether it’s a two, whether it’s a drive, whether it’s a drive-and-kick. … I think he’s in a great position to [knowing] what is needed, and it meets the need.

The Nets’ advantage was just four points in the final two minutes when those daggers fell. Irving scored nine runs in the 1:19 final, ending himself with that pair of triples.

On the first of those, Irving used his pivot foot to create space from Quentin Grimes before going up and sinking the shot. On the Nets’ next possession, they slowed the clock down before Irving hit another trey — his fifth of the night — to inflate their lead to 117-109 with 50.7 seconds left.

“I don’t really know what you’re supposed to do,” RJ Barrett said. “I mean, Quentin was playing great defense. It’s Kyrie Irving, man.

Irving, who bounced between New Jersey and New York as a kid, never lost to the Knicks while in a Nets uniform. He later recalled watching the rivalry grow with his dad or friends and “admiring the guys who played at Madison Square Garden, the Continental Airlines Arena.”

“For me, I love beating the Knicks and playing against them,” Irving said. “But overall it’s just about the goal, which is to win the ball game. Nothing personal.”

New York Post

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