NBA

Kyrie Irving 'at peace' after victorious return to Brooklyn

By Sports Desk February 07, 2024

Kyrie Irving described himself as "at peace" over his time with the Nets after scoring 36 points in a stellar return to Brooklyn as the Dallas Mavericks won 119-107 on Tuesday.

Irving, acquired from the Nets exactly one year ago, shot 15 of 24 from the field, was 4 of 11 on 3-pointers and handed out five assists.

Luka Doncic fell just short of a 10th triple-double this season with 35 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.

Dallas improved to 28-23 with its second straight win before Thursday's road game in New York.

After the win, Irving faced a string of questions over his time spent with the Nets, with his return coming after Kevin Durant also made a winning return to Brooklyn last week.

"I don’t think about it too often now, I’m pretty much at peace with what happened and the time I spent here," said Irving.

"I wish a lot of the guys well. Obviously, it was emotional and you could see my emotions running on out there but after that, I was just pretty much focused on winning the basketball game.

"It was just like any other basketball game, but it felt like I was home."

Pressed on his Brooklyn exit after impressing in his second game back after missing six with a sprained right thumb, Irving added: "It was time to get my own peace of mind and go somewhere where I was able to thrive.

"I did not want to be in a situation where I didn't have to worry about behind-the-back talk or the media talk or not knowing how to handle real-life circumstances that has nothing to do with the game of basketball. 

"While I was here, I learned a lot of lessons. I've made my peace again and I just want to move forward."

The Nets only won one playoff series with Durant and Irving, who spent three-and-a-half years in Brooklyn.

However, they almost defeated the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2021, a battle that took place while James Harden and Irving were both short of full fitness.

Irving said: "Things could have changed, and you look back at the past and you have 20-20 vision then this could've gone right or if this would've happened…

"If I didn't get injured versus the Bucks, do I still ask for a trade? If KD's foot wasn't on the 3-point line, are we talking about a different legacy here? If James doesn't ask for a trade – all of the woulda, coulda, shoulda, wouldas.

"Everything that I've learned about myself has come from being in the city and being in Jersey. It was a childhood dream to play for the Nets.

"Obviously I fell short in terms of the championship aspirations, but for me, I think it was bigger than a championship here.

"I had to really take some moral stances. There were some political things that were going on here as well and there were some things that I did on my accord that I look back on and they were mistakes. And I have to be accountable for those things. 

"I'm not perfect. But one thing I can say is I've been able to learn from things and continue to push forward."

Mikal Bridges scored 28 points and Royce O’Neal added 18 for Brooklyn, which cut a 23-point deficit to 107-101 with roughly five minutes left before Irving hit two straight 3s for a 113-101 advantage.

The Mavericks are eighth in the highly competitive Western Conference standings.

Irving added: "Hopefully after this night, we can just put that to rest, just move forward and I can look forward to the rest of my career and just handle it in Dallas and going after my second championship."

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