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With LeBron James in foul trouble and his Cleveland Cavaliers struggling to get anything going at home against the Boston Celtics in Game 4, Kyrie Irving absolutely took over in the second half — pouring in 21 points in the third quarter — and finishing with a playoff career high 42 points, propelling his squad to 112-99 victory on Tuesday night.
Cleveland leads the best-of-seven series 3-1, and is now just one win away from its third straight NBA Finals appearance. Awaiting them is the Golden State Warriors, who swept the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
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The Cavaliers — who dismantled the Celtics in Games 1 and 2 in Boston — were coming off a shocking defeat in Game 3 and appeared sluggish in the 1st half, trailing 57-47 at the break.
But things would change rapidly in the third quarter as Cleveland would outscore Boston 40-23 third, with Irving nearly out-dueling the Celtics on his own. In the final two minutes of the frame, Irving scored 12 points — including 26-foot step-back three pointer with 0.5 seconds left to put his team ahead 87-80.
Cleveland would pull away in the 4th quarter, thanks to James who scored 15 points and handed out two assists. Irving was held to just five points in the final quarter.
Game 5 takes place on Thursday back in Boston — who will once again be missing their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas, who suffered a postseason-ending hip injury earlier in the series.
Here’s a look at Uncle Drew’s box score in Game 4:
Minutes played: 41
WATCH highlights of Irving’s Game 4 performance:
Irving Adds on to the Cleveland 3rd Quarter Lead with a Fast Break Layup
Irving Freezes Kelly Olynyk with a Stepback Three Pointer
Kyrie Muscles Past Avery Bradley for the And-1 Late in the 3rd
Here’s that Nasty Stepback Three to Cap Off a 21 Point Third Quarter
And after that three, Twitter went bananas: