Kyrie Irving Misses 2 Game-Winners, Makes the 3rd

Christopher Walder@@WalderSportsContributor IINovember 10, 2013

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

After missing game-winning shots at the end of regulation and the first overtime period, Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers would take one more crack at it, driving down the lane and scoring a left-handed layup with 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock to give his team the 127-125 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

With 5.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the game tied at 107, Irving would make a similar move to the basket, flipping up a reverse layup that eventually bounced off the back of the net.

Then, at the end of the game's first overtime period and both teams square at 116, Irving cut through defenders and threw up a floater that clanked off the left side of the rim. Teammate Jarrett Jack was standing open in the corner waiting for the pass, but once again, Irving took it upon himself to try to win the game for his team.

When the opportunity presented itself for a third time, the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year wasn't going to strike out.

It wasn't pretty at first. After those key misses, fans and media alike were starting to question whether Irving had all of a sudden lost his mojo or not.

It's understandable. Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers haven't exactly had the most prosperous of starts to the 2013-14 regular season.

Before defeating Philadelphia on Saturday night, the team had lost four of its previous five, including three winnable games against the Charlotte Bobcats, Milwaukee Bucks and a road game at the Wells Fargo Center against the 76ers this past Friday.

Through his first six games, Irving was averaging just 16.7 points, down from the 22.5 he averaged last season. He was shooting 37.3 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from behind the arc.

His free-throw shooting was also taking a major hit, as his average of 68.0 percent from the charity stripe was down a full 17.5 points from the 85.5 percent he shot in 2012-13.

It was a reasonable concern. Maybe the once highly praised guard was coming back down to earth. It could simply be a bad stretch to start a long haul of a regular season, but perhaps it's more than that.

Six or seven games isn't a lot to make a sound judgement on, but what exactly was Irving waiting for? No time like the present, as the saying goes.

Cleveland fans can only hope that his performance against Philadelphia is the start of something special and a catalyst toward something bigger and better.

He would finish the night with a season-high 39 points on 15-of-33 shooting from the field. He connected on five three-pointers, handed out 12 assists and grabbed five rebounds in 48 minutes of action.

With the victory, the Cleveland Cavaliers improve to 3-4 on the year.

You have to give credit where credit is due to the 21-year-old Irving. Instead of sulking after missing two makeable shots earlier in the game to win it all, Irving maintained his composure and came through in the end for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That's what makes an NBA All-Star. That's what makes a franchise player.

That's what makes a superstar.

A two-point win in double overtime against Philadelphia won't instill a great deal of confidence to followers of the Cavaliers, but if this one game was a turning point for the best player the franchise has trotted out since the LeBron James era, they'll all be happier because of it.

 

Follow Christopher Walder on Twitter @WalderSports

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