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Introspective Kyrie Irving lifts the Nets late despite the night

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NEW ORLEANS – Although it ended with a 7 for 22 shoot night, Kyrie Irving couldn’t help but smile as he left the ground following a 108-102 defeat the Pelicans on Friday at the Smoothie King Center.

As has been the case throughout his cursed career, the 30-year-old hit the biggest shot of the night: a 3-point dagger from 30 feet with just 43 seconds left, which gave the Nets their 13th victory in the last 14 games.

“I finally landed a shot,” Irving said.

Throughout the past month and a half, the Nets have been riding the hot hands of Irving and the star forward Kevin Durant to outplay the teams offensively, but Friday’s win provided another triumph as the group overcame a poor shooting night in which the dynamic pair finished just 16-for-48 from the field.

In a game that might have eluded the Nets, it was a thoughtful Irving who helped save the day.

“Basketball is just a very simple art form,” Irving said. “So if I don’t bring all my extra distractions or whatever I’m mentally going through in the game, then I feel like we have a great chance of winning every baseball game.”

The Nets have become accustomed to winning since new head coach Jacque Vaughn officially took over in early November. The group continues to play with a mental strength that was not present at the start of the season. That advantage continues to shine for Irving since returning from his eight-game suspension following a social media post promoting a book and film centered on anti-Semitic tropes.

“He just has a way of embracing this moment, regardless of what’s come before,” Vaughn said. And for Kevin to send that ball to him, and Kevin kind of had an elbow iso, shows how they’ve grown together. [Irving] has an incredible ability to erase what has come before and to be in the moment and fully enjoy this moment and shine.

Irving said he has been working on his mental approach to the game over the past year – an approach that Durant says is one of the main reasons Irving can always go big, no matter how hard he has. could have struggled earlier in the game.

“He approaches it like it’s a minute into the game,” Durant said. “That’s how he’s calm and relaxed. Even though the stakes are different at the start of the game and at the end of the game, I still believe he’s the same regardless of the time on the clock. “He plays that way, Calm and cool, under control under pressure in tough times. It’s like a walk in the park for him.

“The greats understand that every possession matters and if you stay balanced throughout the game you’re usually in great shape in the fourth.”

So how did Irving refine the approach he carries with him now?

“Studying the greats and striving to be greater than them,” Irving said. You look at some of the great representatives of professional sports through the balance of people, most of the time you see that there is a similarity, there is a commonality between the way they control emotions at the end of the match .

“I was able to learn that over time, but I think the best thing I’ve been able to learn this year is to be with the guys, the discipline, to go through a lot of things outside or outside. inside and we just figure it out.”

The Nets continue to find ways to win games instead of finding ways to lose them, like they did at the start of the season. They are the hottest team in the league and a group that still believes their best is ahead of them. As they prepared for a flight to Miami ahead of Sunday’s game against the Heat, Irving wasn’t the only member of the team’s traveling band smiling about what they’d just accomplished.

“We’ve had a lot of wins so far this season, this one really stands out for me,” Vaughn said. “Just because [we’re in an] the opposing arena, down 11, did not shoot the ball well, and for us to stay with him, not to lose our balance on the road to believe that we can win. And even going through a period where we weren’t taking shots to try to defend, to stay together, to stay with the game plan, says a lot about the group, about how they grew together. So really impressive win, especially on the road after a loss.

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