He finished off the Celtics with a spinning, turning layup, a big shot usually reserved for superstars, not upstart rookies. Kyrie Irving put the Cavaliers ahead with 2.6 seconds left and then immediately ran toward his father for a celebratory moment.
Drederick Irving, a guard on the 1988 Boston University NCAA Tournament team, was all smiles and pointed back to his son from his courtside seat. The elder Irving watched the game with a number of teammates from his BU days, and spent the postgame taking pictures and basking in his son's first NBA game-winner.
"You know I'm really happy for Kyrie, but more importantly, it was a team effort, they played defense as a team,'' Drederick Irving said. "Great move by Kyrie. That's why Kyrie does what he does, I knew he was taking the last shot. He makes plays. He's been making plays all year. I'm just fortunate that the shot went in.''
Kyrie said he spent considerable time in Boston as a youngster, attending BU's skills camp. Irving acknowledged that former coach Dennis Wolff offered him a scholarship as a fifth-grader. "I thought I was going to go to BU in fifth grade,'' he said.
The winning shot made up for a failed attempt Dec. 30 at Indiana when he missed at the buzzer and the Cavaliers lost, 98-91, to the Pacers in overtime.
"Yeah, I guess you could say [it was redemption],'' he said. "You know that play was designed and [Anderson Varejao] set a great screen and freed me up a bit. And it was a tough shot. So I'm just happy we got the win.''
Perhaps no one was happier than the elder Irving, who raised Kyrie by himself after his wife's death.
"Kyrie's a hard worker, his work ethic is the best part of his team,'' Drederick Irving said. "It's like a dream. You're just happy as a parent. I'm happy he was able to solidify the win after that last move, but I'm happy for the team.''
The Cavaliers were trailing, 82-71, with 6:10 left when Irving reentered the game for Ramon Sessions. He scored 8 of Cleveland's final 17 points.
"The fact that Kyrie has a lot of poise and he's always collected and calm, I think he's illustrated that since he's been in the league,'' said Drederick Irving, a member of BU's athletic hall of fame. "It's come down to the final shot and he delivered. [Being in Boston] is icing on the cake. I'm here with a lot of my BU friends, guys who I went to school with. To celebrate this victory with a lot of my close friends is really a dream come true.''
Dooling sits again
Keyon Dooling has missed nine of the Celtics' last 10 games - including last night's - with a sore right knee and now a right hip pointer. The frustration is apparent. He was acquired to be the veteran backup combo guard, replacing Delonte West, but he can't seem to stay healthy after playing significant minutes in the first seven games.
"What happens is I took a knee first as I was falling and I hit the ground and 240 pounds [Ryan Anderson] landed on me at the same time,'' he said. "The good thing is my nick-ups this year have been impact plays so it's not like a situation where you're just running and you are just breaking down. It's actually impact plays.
"It's discouraging, the fact I can't help the team, I can't find my rhythm, but I'm encouraged because if you have so much adversity, the sun has got to shine eventually.''
Coach Doc Rivers expects Dooling to miss the most time of any of the injured players, and he is not close to doing even basketball activities since his Jan. 26 injury.
"This is my first time having something like this so I am not sure how long it takes to heal,'' said Dooling. "As of right now, it's still even hard to sleep. It's hard when you cough, when you blow your nose, you don't really know how many muscles in your body are affected by the area.''
First points for Thompson
Cleveland sharpshooter Daniel Gibson was a late scratch with a stiff neck. He is averaging 7.1 points off the bench. Mychel Thompson, son of former Laker Mychal Thompson, was activated when Gibson was placed on the inactive list. He scored the first 4 points of his NBA career on consecutive fourth-quarter jumpers . . . Rivers declared Jermaine O'Neal a game-time decision but he did not play, missing his third consecutive game with a bruised right knee . . . With Ray Allen back in the Celtics' lineup, Mickael Pietrus returned to the bench and scored 2 points in 15 minutes . . . Cleveland's Anthony Parker played 14 scoreless minutes in the first half but did not return for the second because of back spasms. The Celtics considered signing Parker in the offseason . . . Avery Bradley left the game after rolling his right ankle but returned for the fourth quarter . . . Paul Pierce's seven turnovers were his most since he had eight on Feb. 10, 2010, against the Hornets.