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Brooklyn Nets v New Orleans Pelicans

Source: Jonathan Bachman / Getty

Kyrie Irving’s off-the-court antics are often up for debate but rarely is  his ability on the hardwood.

When fully healthy, there’s no argument about his production, and in the Jan. 22 game against the Golden State Warriors, the guard put on a clinic.

Irving certainly had a chip on his shoulder as, just weeks prior, he was heckled by a fan against another game versus the Warriors. The Nets easily beat the West Coast squad team by 30 points, but the heckler thought it was only because Curry was out with a shoulder injury while Irving was out with a leg injury.

“He gotta guard me, and I gotta guard him. So let’s see what happens when Steph plays,” was Irving’s response.

He proved it by carrying the team on his back during the 120-116 contest and had 38 points and nine assists. The last pass came when he tossed it to Royce O’Neale, who made a go-ahead 3-pointer with just under 30 seconds left in the game. It put Brooklyn up 118-116. Then Irving put the nail in the coffin at the free-throw line.

En route to those 38 points, he didn’t hesitate to trip up Jordan Poole and escape the lockdown defense of Steph Curry and any other Warriors in the lane. After the game, Irving spoke on what it took for him to be trusted with the ball.

“The most important thing is not letting your confidence waiver. It’s easy to miss a few shots, get into a funk. We don’t want to have that, I don’t want to have that,” Irving said after the game. “I told you guys I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to be the first option, the second option, or the main one. This is a message for everyone at home, first option, second option, third option it don’t f-cking matter to me.

It doesn’t matter who has the ball in their hands as long as they’re being aggressive [and] it’s the best shot for our team. Objectively this team sport is to win basketball games, not identify one person to carry everybody every single night … it’s just a team attitude, team atmosphere and living with the results.”

Irving’s performance is even more impressive because it was a comeback win that saw the Nets close out on a 22-6 run to snatch the win.

See how Twitter reacted to the victory below.

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