Thu, 23 Mar 2023

Coming off tough loss, Lakers visit Kyrie Irving, Nets

Field Level Media
30 Jan 2023, 05:55 GMT+10

Well before LeBron James was visibly frustrated about not getting a foul call in the final seconds of regulation in Boston, Kyrie Irving dominated the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks on Saturday.

Two days after vastly different experiences down the stretch, the former teammates get together Monday night when James and the Los Angeles Lakers visit Irving and the Brooklyn Nets.

Monday is the 14th head-to-head meeting between the duo, who spent three seasons as teammates for the Cleveland Cavaliers, highlighted by Irving hitting the game-winning shot against Golden State to win the NBA Finals in 2016. James' teams have won 10 of those meetings.

The Lakers are 4-6 in their past 10 since winning five straight Dec. 30-Jan. 7. Four of those defeats were by five or fewer points, including Saturday's 125-121 overtime loss to the Celtics that left the Lakers encouraged by their showing and also peeved.

"If we compete as hard as we did tonight to start this trip, we're going to be OK," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said as the team embarked on a five-game swing. "We're going to be OK."

James scored 41 points but his fifth game this season with at least 40 points -- all coming since Dec. 30 -- was marred by what did not happen. With one second left, James missed a potential game-winning layup and was annoyed at official Eric Lewis when a foul was not called on Boston.

"I don't understand," James said. "I don't understand what we're doing, and I watch basketball every single day. I watch games every single day and I don't see it happening to nobody else. It's just weird."

After the game, Lewis told a pool reporter that a foul should have been called.

"There was contact," he said. "At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play."

James' annoyance occurred as Irving scored 21 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter of a 122-115 win against the Knicks.

"Just staying poised and letting the game come to me, and just throwing the rest of the three quarters out the window, whether I'm playing well or not," Irving said.

Irving scored at least 30 points for a career-high sixth straight game and set the record for the longest streak in team history. Since missing a game in San Antonio Jan. 17 due to a calf injury, Irving is averaging 36.3 points and shooting 51.7 percent (76 of 147), including 47.4 percent from 3-point range (28 of 59).

It was the third time in the past six games that Irving scored at least 20 points in a fourth quarter, and he helped the Nets fend off a comeback attempt by the Knicks. In his past six fourth quarters, Irving is averaging 16 points and shooting 57.6 percent (34 of 59).

"That's why it's so great to have the basketball in his hands," Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said.

Irving's performance occurred when the Nets hit a season-high 22 3-pointers.

Brooklyn played Saturday's game without Ben Simmons (sore left knee) and T.J. Warren (left shin contusion). Both could be out again Monday and the Nets could deploy 10 players again after all five starters reached double figures, including Nic Claxton, who has double-doubles in seven of his past eight contests.

--Field Level Media

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