He did not disappoint.
The Brooklyn star went off for 40 points on 15-of-28 shooting to go along with seven assists in the Nets’ 114-112 win over New York. Irving’s big night even included a celebration that raised a few eyebrows.
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Irving Nearly Mimics Lillard Celebration
With about a minute left in the fourth quarter, Irving went to work on the right wing, creating enough separation from defender Elfrid Payton to get off a good look at a 25-foot 3-pointer.
The bucket gave the Nets a five-point lead and prompted a timeout by the Knicks.
As he trotted back down the court, Irving nodded his head and went to point at his wrist — a celebration very reminiscent of Portland star Damian Lillard’s “Dame Time” move — before stopping himself and instead opting to clap emphatically.
At the same time, on YES Network broadcast of the game, play-by-play man Ian Eagle said: “Kyrie Irving has put up a 40 burger!”
“Dame Time” has been in Lillard’s repertoire for years. In 2014, the Trail Blazers star hit a 3-pointer to force overtime in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder and responded by turning to his bench and tapping his wrist.
“I was just pointing to the watch. That’s Lillard Time,” Lillard said at the time, via FOX Sports. “That was the first time anybody’s seen that. I was just feeling myself a little bit at the moment.”
It’s happened plenty of times ever since.
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Lillard Speaks Highly of Kyrie
Earlier this season, it was Lillard who was paying respect to Irving.
After Irving went off for 40 points Brooklyn’s win over the Boston Celtics on March 12, ballislife posted about it on Instagram. Lillard then posted a comment in response.
“Most beautiful game in history,” Lillard wrote.
That’s some awfully high praise from the six-time All-Star who is one of the game’s best shooters and playmakers in his own right.
it’s a relatively popular sentiment surrounding Irving.
In a March 5 article entitled “Kyrie Irving generation: Meet the NBA point guards who emulate the Nets star”, The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer quoted Atlanta Hawks rising star Trae Young as throwing similarly high praise at Irving, albeit from a different perspective.
“I remember how he used to always work on his handle,” Young told Schiffer. “Whenever they came out for layup lines, I remember he used to work on his handle from sideline to sideline and just dribbling, feeling the ball. I added that to mine. I do that whenever we come out to shoot or do layups.
“If you’re a fan of basketball, you’ve watched Kyrie. If you’re a fan of getting better, you watch Kyrie. He’s extremely talented offensively. There are not many guys that can score as he does. I’ve tried to take as much as I could.”