Twenty points on 10 shots in under 22 minutes, six assists without a turnover, a lead role in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 115-101 win over the visiting Charlotte Bobcats, and a pregnant-with-history at-the-rim erasure of opposing number D.J. Augustin. Not a bad night for young Kyrie Irving, huh?
Even better: While the chase-down block on Augustin probably felt like an exorcism for many Cleveland fans, the Cavs' new No. 1 overall pick treated it like it t'weren't nothin'. From Mary Schmitt Boyer at the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
"It was just a normal basketball play," Irving said, shrugging off any compliments. "I just wanted to contest it the best I can."
Fellow rookie Tristan Thompson said he saw it coming.
"I knew he could do that," Thompson said. "It was almost like he set D.J. up. D.J.'s like a big brother to me [Thompson and Augustin both went to Texas] so I'm going to get at him a little after the game about that block. But I knew Kyrie was going to block that. I could have bet money on that."
The season is young and so are the Cavs' two prized rookies, but so far, they've been even better than advertised. Both Irving (23.5) and Thompson (20.1) place among the top seven rookies in ESPN.com's John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating rankings, and they've each made major contributions on both ends of the floor for a Cavs team off to a solid 3-2 start.
They're going to make mistakes and come back to the pack over the course of the season, but in the early going, they're showing themselves capable of playing a brand of basketball that invigorates a fan base that desperately needs and richly deserves some legitimate excitement. Irving, Thompson and their teammates are helping make basketball fun again at the Q — even the kinds of plays most closely associated with Cleveland's most reviled ex.
It's pretty cool to see. Would've been even cooler if Antawn Jamison had made the three at the other end, but still, pretty cool.