Kyrie Irving is starting to show why the Cleveland Cavaliers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
The star point guard looks to continue his recent strong play and help the Cavaliers get back over .500 with a second straight victory Tuesday night against the visiting Golden State Warriors.
Though a toe injury limited Irving to 11 games in his only season at Duke in 2010-11, Cleveland selected him with the hope he could quickly help turn things around after it went 19-63 in the first season since LeBron James left for Miami.
Irving averaged 14.1 points and shot 41.9 percent in the first seven games but has put up 22.6 on 55.0 percent shooting in the last five as he continues to get comfortable with his teammates and the NBA. He had 25 points and seven assists as the Cavaliers (6-6) scored the final nine points to win 102-94 at Charlotte on Monday.
"(Playing in the NBA) hasn't been easy," said Irving, who averages 5.3 assists. "I mean it's gone pretty well, but it's definitely not easy. The back-to-back games and the travel, I mean, it's not an excuse, but it's something I'm trying to get used to.
"Every single day you try to learn something new. It's not easy but I'm enjoying this process and that's the most important thing for me."
Many opposing players and coaches believe the 6-foot-3 Irving has the potential to thrive at the pro level.
"He's going to be terrific," Charlotte coach Paul Silas said. "He understands the game. He penetrates to the hoop. He can shoot the basketball."
Irving's also getting help from veteran Antawn Jamison, who's averaging 16.8 points and scored 20 on Monday as the Cavaliers concluded a 3-4 road trip.
"I'm not surprised that we competed every night (on the trip)," coach Byron Scott said. "I told the guys that if we can come off this seven-game trip with three wins, it'd be pretty good. And we did that. And we had some other close ones, so the road trip pretty much was a success."
Cleveland will try for a third consecutive home victory while looking to avoid a third straight loss to Golden State (4-8), which improved to 1-4 on the road with a 99-91 win over Detroit on Sunday.
"We defended, we didn't make excuses, and we didn't get frustrated," first-year coach Mark Jackson said. "It was just a great performance overall. I think the guys felt challenged."
Golden State last won two straight road games Nov. 8-10, 2010.
Ellis scored 24 and Lee added 14 with 14 boards as the Warriors won 95-85 in their last visit to Cleveland on March 8.
Averaging 23.7 points this season, Ellis has put up 25.8 in his last five games versus Cleveland.
While the Warriors could be without guard Stephen Curry (ankle) for a seventh straight game, Cleveland might be missing swingman Anthony Parker after he left Monday's victory with a sore back.