Kyrie Irving got two wins for the price of one in his Mavericks debut on Wednesday night.
First, Irving led the Mavericks, who never trailed, with 24 points in beating the Clippers 110-104 in Los Angeles. Then to top his night off, he saw Kevin Durant, his former Nets teammate, get traded to the Suns.
“It felt good to get this debut out of the way,” Irving said. “It’s just been a long 96 hours, barely any sleep sometimes. It’s the first time I ever got traded in the middle of the season, so it was new for me, but I’m excited that I’m here.”
“I just am glad that [Durant] got out of there. . . . I’m just praying for his happiness, praying for his well-being,” Irving said, adding that he had been looking to get out of Brooklyn for awhile. “I think this was in the works like after Year 1. I wasn’t sure about whether or not I wanted to be in Brooklyn long term because of things that was happening behind the scenes.
“I just did my best to put my head down and work as hard as I could. There were some unfortunate circumstances that came up there that were out of my control, whether it be the mandate with the vaccine, or missing games, being suspended, or just little things that just put just wrenches in our journey.”
The 30-year-old Irving, who also had five assists and four rebounds, said he is looking forward to playing with the injured Luka Doncic to give Dallas a powerhouse backcourt. Doncic, 23, is recovering from a heel injury he suffered on Feb. 2 against the Pelicans.
“I’m sure when number 77 gets back it’ll be even more enjoyable to see and play out there,” Irving said.
It will be interesting to see if the two ball-dominant guard will play well together. After the Mavericks’ win, Irving, who scored eight points during a 13-0 Dallas run early in the game, said the offense doesn’t always have to run through him.
“The most important thing that we stressed as a team was just don’t force the ball to me. We just want to play natural basketball,” Irving said. “You don’t always have to come to me. You can play off me, I can play off the ball, I can cut.”
It didn’t take long for Irving and his new teammates to gain chemistry as the Mavericks scored 41 points in the opening quarter while shooting 60 percent from the floor.
“He makes things look easy,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “The comfort level he feels with us, you could see it in the game. He is at peace with his basketball game.”