CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – This time Kyrie Irving’s 3 fell short of the basket.
Irving missed a desperation three-point attempt at the buzzer with LeBron James closing out on the play and the Cavs escaped with a 102-99 victory Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
“Just an ordinary game,” Irving said. “First game of the season obviously a new team I’m playing on but just went out there to get the season started.”
Irving, who scored the first basket of the game on a right-handed floater, finished with 22 points on 8 of 17 shooting and he handed out a team-high 10 assists in the loss for the Celtics.
“It’s a really hard game for a guy to play, especially the first game of the season with all the emotion you have to go through,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “How he can play at that level is beyond me.”
Irving heard plenty of boos Tuesday night in his first game back in Cleveland since demanding a trade from the Cavs in July. His wish was accommodated in late August.
“That was nothing,” James said of how Irving was treated. “It was nothing. What do you want me to say? I’ve experienced boos before. That was like a pat on the back. It could never – I love our fans, but – you know, that was nothing.”
While the atmosphere inside the arena paled in comparison to the one James endured on Dec. 2, 2010 when he returned for the first time with the Miami Heat, Irving was not made to feel welcome.
The only time Irving heard cheers came in the third quarter when he received a technical foul for jawing at the Cavs bench.
Every time Irving touched the ball or he checked into the game or he scored, boos cascaded down from the sellout crowd of 20,562.
A planned video tribute to Irving was not played on the arena’s Humungotron scoreboard as originally planned. Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com reported that Cavs players were upset that there was a video produced at all.
After Irving’s desperation 3 fell short James exchanged their customary handshake and hugged Irving before the 2 went their separate ways towards their respective locker rooms.
“Anytime you win a championship with someone, you obviously think about the moments, memories,” James said. “Especially someone who was instrumental to what we was able to accomplish. Once the ball went up, it was kind of back to the regularly scheduled program.”