NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving was traded a year ago, but he never completely left New York.
Not when he grew up in the area as a Nets fan, and not when so many family and friends were in attendance when he returned Tuesday night.
He gave them quite a show.
Irving scored 36 points, leading the Mavericks to a 119-107 victory and then spent time signing autographs and greeting his former fans in the stands.
“Just like any other basketball game, but I felt like I was home tonight,” Irving said.
Luka Doncic had 35 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists as the Mavericks’ guard tandem took turns hitting some deep 3-pointers in the second half as the Nets tried to make a run. Doncic quickly removed the mask he started the game with to protect himself from a nasal contusion and narrowly missed his 10th triple-double of the season.
Irving was booed when he touched the ball early, though he turned it into cheers after finishing one of his elegant drives for a layup or hitting one of his six 3-pointers, and especially when he went up high to score. a lob pass in the third quarter.
“That was unbelievable. That was awesome,” Doncic said of the play Irving said he called himself, telling Josh Green he could get up to catch the pass.
Irving, who is second only to Vince Carter in Nets franchise history with his 14 40-point games, nearly had one against Brooklyn after returning from a six-game absence with a sprained right thumb for the game. Monday’s victory in Philadelphia.
Mikal Bridges scored 28 points and Royce O’Neal scored 18 for the depleted Nets, who cut a 23-point deficit to 107-101 with about five minutes remaining before Irving hit two straight 3-pointers to take a 113-101 lead. .
“He’s tough. Ky has an extreme ability to shoot against anyone and I thought he had some timely baskets for that group,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said.
Brooklyn’s Ben Simmons had nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists after missing out on Golden State on Monday.
Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said Irving has been a calming presence for Dallas’ young players, although calm certainly wasn’t the word to define his time in Brooklyn. He played only 143 games in his 3½ seasons, missing time one season after taking a leave of absence, nearly every home game another season due to his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine as New York mandated. . City, and then was suspended by the team last season when he refused to apologize for posting a link to an anti-Semitic piece on social media.
The relationship with the team deteriorated to the point that Irving wanted the homecoming to end midway through last season. The Nets, who had already passed on giving him a contract extension the previous summer, then traded Kevin Durant days after moving Irving, ending an era that was so promising when the All-Stars joined in 2019.
There was no video tribute, which Durant received when he returned for the first time last week. Rather, the Nets displayed photos of Irving, Seth Curry and Markieff Morris on the overhead video board, welcoming the three former Nets back to Brooklyn before the starting lineups were announced.
Dallas led 31-24 after one quarter, before Irving made his first four shots, including two 3-pointers, for 10 points in the second, as the lead quickly reached double digits. The Mavs took a 65-47 lead into halftime.
The Mavericks then scored the first five of the second half, and Vaughn took a timeout just 46 seconds into the game when his players allowed Irving an open 3-pointer that made the score 70-47.
The Nets cut the score to nine late in the third quarter, but Doncic hit consecutive 3-pointers from 30 and 36 feet, and Dallas climbed back to 95-77 after three.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Mavericks: Visit New York on Thursday.
Nets: Host Cleveland on Thursday.
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