Redemption Tour: ‘Great Mavs Teammate’ Kyrie Irving Shines in Return vs. Lakers
- Dalton Trigg
Kyrie Irving put up 38 points and six assists in his return from a three-game injury absence on Friday, and the Dallas Mavericks needed every bit of that production to take down the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rust? What rust? Kyrie Irving has picked right back up where he left off.
Following a three-game absence due to a foot injury, the Dallas Mavericks star point guard returned on Friday night to help lead his team to a thrilling 111-110 win.
Maxi Kleber was the hero, as he nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer with all zeroes on the clock, but the Mavs needed every bit of Irving’s game-high 38 points and six assists to get past the pesky Lakers.
After the game, Irving explained how he was able to return from an extended absence while seemingly not skipping a beat.
"Well, you're usually there, right? Early watching [my pre-game on-court workouts],” Irving told DallasBasketball.com’s Grant Afseth.
“I don't think it's any extra science or anything like that, but it comes down to being intentional about my reps. I could sit at home or be on the court and be like, 'I wish my foot felt as great as it has all season,' but it's just not the reality.”
There may not be any “extra science” to it, as Irving put it, but he certainly has his process down to a science.
“Just taking my reps out there on the floor and being efficient in the opportunities I have,” Irving said. “It's not the first time I've played with an injury or anything like that. Just keep pushing and keep getting rehab and recovery to put myself in the best position."
In addition to Irving’s grit, his calming and encouraging presence on and off the court has been a welcomed sight for the Mavs. After Kleber had several miscues that nearly caused disaster for Dallas in San Antonio on Wednesday, Irving was one of the main voices telling him to keep his head held high.
When Kleber emerged from his Mavs dogpile after hitting the game-winning shot against the Lakers, Irving told him, “that’s redemption!”
Given some of the unfavorable rumors about Irving that came from Brooklyn when the Mavs traded for him, it appears that he, like Kleber, is on a redemption tour of his own.
“He’s a very, very great teammate,” Kleber said of Irving. “He always has positive spirits, uplifting words and all that. I’m very appreciative to play with him. Great character guy.”
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