Mr. Fourth Quarter has struck again.
You may not know it due to the small-market nature of his team, but Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers is developing into one of the game's best fourth-quarter performers. If you don't believe it, there is one reluctant party who can confirm that notion.
The team Irving just sunk a game-winning three-pointer against—the Toronto Raptors.
Irving took the inbound pass with 12.6 seconds remaining, placing his eyes right on the game clock. Irving took a stutter step, pulled up from well beyond the arc and boom.
With 0.7 seconds remaining, Irving gave the Cavaliers a 99-98 lead. It stayed that way.
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, this wasn't as much of a rarity as you may assume. In fact, Kyrie has done this in 5.9 percent of his career games.
A bigger number than you'd think.
Kyrie Irving just finished his 85th career game. He just hit his 5th game winner.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) January 27, 2013
For the game, Irving finished with 32 points on 13-of-26 shooting. The final trey marked his third three-pointer of the game on five tries.
Perhaps most impressive of all, Irving scored 12 points in the fourth quarter alone.
Some viewers were against Kyrie going for the win, as the Cavs were only trailing by two at the time of his heroics. Those opinions changed as soon as Irving dropped in the trey from well beyond the three-point line.
He has a tendency to do that.
NO YOU DON'T THINK ABOUT A 3-BALL HERE, CAVS ANNOUNCER, YOU HAVE KYRIE IRIVING!— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 27, 2013
OR THAT. THAT'S COOL TOO— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 27, 2013
If it's any consolation, you aren't the first, nor will you be the last.
In case you didn't know, Irving is the reigning Rookie of the Year and is headed to his first career All-Star game in 2013. As for those who were wondering why, allow the previously alluded to display answer those questions.
This young man might just have a future in the NBA.
Kyrie Irving might have a future in this game.— Shaun Powell (@Powell2daPeople) January 27, 2013
I might have to agree.
Irving is averaging 24.0 points, 5.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. He's posting a slash line of .474/.404/.850.
You don't get much more efficient than that. His player efficiency rating (PER) of 22.80 provides evidence of such a theory.
Entering the game, Basketball-Reference.com reported that Irving ranked second in field goals during the final 2:00 of the fourth quarter and overtime. Irving added two more against Toronto and closed the gap to six behind one Kobe Bean Bryant.
Rare company for a rare type of player.