Record-Courier staff report
With the world watching, Cleveland’s silky smooth guard Kyrie Irving showed what those in Cleveland have been witnessing for a better part of a year: When the lights are shining the brightest and when the pressure is at its peak, the second-year guard will stand the tallest.
Irving provided the evidence when he won the 3-point shooting contest during NBA’s All-Star Saturday in Houston. He entered the contest considered an underdog and not looked at as a proficient long-ball shooter.
In the opening round, Irving got off to a slow start in his first three racks. It put the pressure on to produce a strong finish, which fueled Irving and he heated up enough to score an 18.
In a new format that would send one Eastern Conference player and one Western Conference player to the final round, Irving’s total topped his other two conference-mates — Paul George (10) and Steve Novak (17).
Coming out of the Western Conference was San Antonio veteran Matt Bonner, who fired a first-round 19. He beat out New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson (18) and Golden State’s Stephen Curry (17).
In the championship round, Irving was first to shoot.
And shoot, he did.
Irving was blistering hot and buried 17 of his first 18 shots.
By the time the smoke cleared, Irving had posted a remarkable score of 23, which was just short of setting a new record in the contest — two shy of the record held by Craig Hodges and Jason Kapono.
Bonner shot well in the final round, finishing with a 20, but it fell short of Irving’s sensational pace.
The 3-point shooting contest was the middle act for Irving on a full schedule this weekend.
Irving scored 32 points in Friday’s Rising Stars game — the same game he was the MVP of last season.
He will also play in tonight’s All-Star Game, his first as an All-Star.