The Cleveland Cavaliers struggled to shoot the ball for much of their 112-108 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday afternoon, but when time called for it, veteran point guard Kyrie Irving stepped up at the perfect time.
Irving sunk seven of his 10 shots and five of his three-point attempts on the way to a 19-point fourth quarter of the victory over the 76ers.
“It was warranted,” Irving said. “We had some good looks throughout the game, and it just wasn’t falling for most of the night. We got some open shots -- myself, Kevin, ‘Bron -- that we normally knock down. It wasn’t really frustrating.
“We had to put our hat on the defensive end. That’s where we make our living. We got the lead with nine minutes left in the fourth and never looked back from there.”
The Cavaliers missed their first 14 looks at the basket and made only seven of their 27 shots in the first quarter and trailed from the start of the game until Irving gave the team an 85-84 lead with a driving layup with 9:22 to play in regulation.
Irving scored 19 of the Cavaliers’ 35 points in the final quarter.
“It was just execution offensively,” Irving said. “The play calls that T-Lue was drawing up, it was for me to be aggressive, coming off pick and rolls, as well as looking for my teammates. Getting downhill is kind of what I make my living at.
“When I’m on the move, coming off down screens and guys are setting screens, we put the defense in weird positions where I’m able to come off and get an open look. I came in and got an open three, and that kind of steam-rolled the fourth quarter the way it went.”
According to Irving, what made the fourth-quarter scoring burst was his ability to remember how Philadelphia defended him in the first three periods and finding ways to counteract their rotations.
“The usual, kind of taking plays in, mentally picturing plays that we had in the first half where I’m coming off pick and rolls and I see how Joel Embiid is defending pick and rolls as well as Jahlil (Okafor),” Irving said.
“Just taking mental screen shots and using that for the fourth quarter just to execute down the stretch. Coming off those screen and rolls, I had a few decisions to make whether to be aggressive attacking the big or swinging out to our shooters.”