<
>

Kyrie honors 'Gavin' with another gem

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The secret behind Kyrie Irving's explosive success over the past two games just might have been revealed in two words scribbled on the sides of his sneakers on Sunday: "For Gavin."

After following up his career-high 57 points against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday with 33 points against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, Irving told ESPN.com he was linked up with Gavin through the Make-A-Wish Foundation about a week ago.

Irving said Gavin was too sick to make it to a recent Cleveland Cavaliers game in Cleveland and he wanted to honor him with the message on his shoes.

It was some kind of tribute from the fourth-year guard as Irving combined to shoot 32-for-47 (68.1 percent), including 12-for-13 from 3 (92.3 percent) while totaling 90 points in the two victories.

Irving was asked how it feels to be in this type of groove. He scored 93 points over a two-game stretch in January, following a 38-point game against the Detroit Pistons with 55 against the Portland Trail Blazers, but he shot a far less accurate 30-for-59 (50.1 percent) and 17-for-29 from 3 (58.6 percent) in those wins.

"The basketball feels a little bit better, and it's just a different feel going into the game," Irving explained. "We all have confidence as NBA players, but when you have a certain feel -- I feel like it's a body feel more than a mental [feel]. Just going out there and playing and I think for me, it's just about figuring the game out and learning every single day and learning where my spots are, how to be more efficient without using as many dribbles and where guys are going to be open and where the open spots are going to be. It's just watching a lot of film and watching other guys do it that have done it before me, learning from them and going from there."

Statistically, Irving is having his best offensive month of the season in March, averaging 26.3 points on 56.1 percent shooting through seven games.

"Just the preparation and getting your body ready, getting mentally ready, it starts when you first wake up," Irving said when asked about how he is able to peak as the season goes on. "And it starts the day before, watching film, and then you wake up and you got to do the next set of things in order to be 150 percent so anyone's best shot you can withstand and also you can give out punches as well. I feel like that's the biggest thing I've learned playing on this team: Everyone is giving us their best shot, it's packed everywhere we go and the competition, the teams are fighting for playoff spots. So I feel like this second-half stretch has been an eye-opening experience."

Cavs coach David Blatt said Irving has impressed him by his ability to show up night after night.

"One of Kyrie's big steps this year, in my opinion, has been the fact that he's really raised his level of consistency, and I think at both ends," Blatt said. "That's been the great thing about his season."

And as for how Irving followed up his game for the ages against the Spurs?

"That's a pretty good encore," Blatt said. "And he played right, which is the most important thing. It's not the scoring as much as it is him just being engaged, locked in and aggressive offensively and not letting up on the defensive end. It was pretty admirable what he did."

And even more admirable when you consider to whom he was dedicating his performance.