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February 3, 2013

Irving’s 35 pace Cavs against Thunder

CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving wasn’t just interested. He was incredible.

With one shot better than his last, Irving scored 35 points, including 13 in the final 2:52, as the Cleveland Cavaliers stunned the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-110 on Saturday.

One night after saying he was “disinterested” during a loss in Detroit, Irving was simply spectacular down the stretch. He single-handedly closed out one of the NBA’s best teams, making his last five shots and showing why he’s an All-Star at age 20. Irving’s biggest bucket was a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left to make it 113-108.

“He’s a killer,” said newly acquired Cavs forward Marreese Speights, who added 21 points. “I knew a little about him, I didn’t know THAT.”

Kevin Durant scored 32 points and Russell Westbrook had 28 for the Thunder, who came in 35-11 and with the league’s best road record. Durant left briefly in the third quarter with an injured rib, but returned and scored 13 in the fourth.

However, it wasn’t enough to offset Irving, who sent the Thunder home with a loss.

“He’s one of the best in the business,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Give him a lot of credit.”

Tristan Thompson added 12 rebounds and C.J. Miles scored 16 for the Cavs, who had played poorly in consecutive losses this week to Golden State and Detroit.

Irving was so frustrated with the Cavs’ lackluster effort on Friday night against the Pistons that afterward he admitted to not being as involved as he should have been. Before facing the Thunder, he promised it would never happen again and the reigning rookie of the year more than kept his word.

“I figured he’d be a lot more focused — and he was,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said. “He’s a closer. That’s exactly what he did.”

With the Cavs trailing 101-100, Irving, who sat out the first 6:12 of the fourth, drew a foul and hit two free throws. On Cleveland’s next possession, he drove and dropped a layup to make it 104-101. Durant’s two free throws brought the Thunder within one, but Irving, dribbling between his legs and around Oklahoma City’s defenders, hit a floater from the baseline.

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