Kyrie Irving hits game-winning shot to lift Cavs past Sixers in 2OT
By AP FeedFoxSports
Kyrie Irving wasn't about to come up short a third time.
Irving, who missed potential game-winning shots at the end of regulation and the first overtime, scored on a layup with 0.6 seconds remaining in the second extra session to lift the Cleveland Cavaliers a 127-125 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
"Thirty-three percent isn't bad, I'd take that any day," said Irving, who scored a season-high 39 points.
Irving's winning basket ended a wild 22 minutes of play that saw Cleveland rally from a 10-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter and Philadelphia tie the game late in regulation and in the first overtime. The Cavaliers led 125-122 after Irving hit two free throws with 21.1 seconds left in the second OT, but rookie Michael Carter-Williams tied the game with a 3-pointer from the top of the key over Irving with 11.3 seconds remaining.
The Cavaliers called timeout and chose to take the ball the length of the floor. Irving took the inbounds pass, avoided a double team near the top of the key, drove the lane and scored on a left-handed layup.
"The middle was wide open," Irving said.
"He's a spectacular player," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "When you have a guy like Kyrie, you're going to have plenty of opportunities to win. Each time I thought he took the right shot. I applaud him to try to close the game the right way. When the game was on the line, we put the ball in his hands to go get it for us."
Sixers coach Brett Brown gave Irving full credit.
"Kyrie is just incredibly elusive and skilled," he said. "We tried to bring our bigs out to corral him and try and double-(team), but you really can't corral him and keep in front of him. He is such an unusual player to guard, you don't see too many like him in the NBA. Kevin Durant is one of the few other ones."
Philadelphia called timeout, but Carter-Williams' inbounds pass went out of bounds.
Thaddeus Young's lay-in with 5.5 seconds remaining tied the game in regulation and Evan Turner's baseline drive tied it with 8.7 seconds left in the first overtime.
Dion Waiters scored 24 points and Jarrett Jack added 20 for the Cavaliers in the second game of the home-and-home set.
Turner led the Sixers with 31 points and Young had 29.
"That was a great NBA game," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. "The only negative is that we lost. I told our guys how proud I am of them because they continued to fight and find any way possible to win."
Irving scored 13 points in the final period to help Cleveland overcome a 10-point deficit. Cleveland stretched the lead to 97-92, but the Sixers cut the lead to one on two occasions in the final minute. Tristan Thompson split two free throws with 10.5 seconds to go before Young tied the game with a strong drive past Thompson. Irving got to the rim, but his layup rolled off.
Cleveland built a 116-109 lead with 1:35 left in the first OT, but the Sixers rallied again. Following Turner's game-tying basket, Irving jumper bounced away at the buzzer.
Philadelphia, picked by many to be one of the worst teams in the league, has been an early surprise. The Sixers won their first three games, including victories over Miami and Chicago, but then had home losses to Golden State and Washington by a total of 34 points. The Sixers rallied from a 14-point deficit in the first quarter Friday to blow out the Cavaliers.
Cleveland center Andrew Bynum didn't play in order to rest his sore knees. The 7-footer has yet to play in games on back-to-back nights as he works his way back from surgery on both knees. Bynum was booed throughout his return to Philadelphia on Friday when he scored four points and had five rebounds in 18 minutes.
Cavaliers rookie forward Anthony Bennett, who strained his right shoulder Friday, was scoreless in nine minutes. Bennett, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, has struggled in the early going of his first season, hitting 1 of 21 shots from the field.
NOTES: Irving, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 193 pounds, took a charge from Sixers C Spencer Hawes, who is 7-1 and 245 pounds, in the second quarter. ... Alonzo Gee started at small forward for Cleveland in place of Earl Clark, who started the first six games, but is averaging four points and shooting 30 percent from the field. Gee scored two points in 22 minutes while Clark didn't play. ... C Daniel Orton (sore right knee) missed his second straight game for the Sixers. He was injured Wednesday against the Wizards.