Kyrie Irving: Dallas Mavericks ‘answered call’ in NBA win over Denver Nuggets

Dallas Mavericks home stadium in NBA basketball

Kyrie Irving said he had been able to “trust the skills I work on when no-one’s watching” when the Dallas Mavericks guard secured a buzzer-beating 107-105 win for his team over the Denver Nuggets with a left-hander from 20 feet on Sunday.

Luka Doncic, who led the individual scoring on 37 points, tied the game with a three-pointer 25 seconds from time, setting up Irving to end the defending champions’ five-game winning streak and consign them to second position in the Western Conference.

“Sometimes I spend an hour straight just working on straight left-hand stuff,” explained Irving. “Being a small guard, you have to have a multitude of finishes.

“That’s something I’ve been working on since I was a kid. We’re playing in the most athletic league in the world, so these guys make up ground pretty quickly.

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“You try to work on things that the defence are not expecting. I was lucky enough to hit a left-hand floater outside of the free throw line. I thought I got a little closer but I looked at it after and I was a pretty far out.

“It’s being able to trust in the skills I work on when no-one’s watching. I was fortunate enough that it went in.”

Mavericks vs Nuggets result: Dallas ‘play to strengths’

The Mavericks are seventh in the Western Conference, one place shy of a guaranteed play-off place, with teams finishing seventh to 10th entering the play-in tournament.

“We match up with pretty much anybody well – especially on the defensive end,” said Irving. “We have the ability to switch one through five and we also have a foundational defence that we’ve been going to pretty much the whole season.

“We’ve consistently worked on our communication and the trust we have – the intangible skill sets to be able to stop teams. We also have the offensive skill set to really dominate teams and get out in transition.

“If we score more than 15 fast break points, it’s going to be a long night for any team so I feel like we’re playing to our strengths. When it gets tough and we face a little adversity throughout the game, we’re able to slow the game down, throw it to the post or go to our common place.

“When you come into the arena and you’re against the defending champs, you know it’s going to be a tough one. We’re fighting for sixth spot and it’s on your mind. We answered that call for the majority of the game.”

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