Kyrie Irving had 39 points for the Cavaliers, while Michael Carter-Williams scored 21 points and dished 13 assists. (USA Today Images)
Michael Carter-Williams joined Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with 130-plus points and 50-plus assists in their first seven games. (ESPN/Elias)
CLEVELAND -- If you were watching Saturday night’s Sixers-Cavaliers game only for sheer entertainment, you certainly got your money’s worth. There were 11 ties, nine lead changes and a number of big plays from multiple players when their team’s needed them to shine.
The final shining moment in a 127-125 double overtime loss for the 76ers came from Kyrie Irving, who found just enough room to turn a corner at the foul line, getting past Michael Carter-Williams for a game winning layup with 0.6 seconds remaining (see Instant Replay).
That basket gave Irving a season-high 39 points, 22 of which came in the fourth quarter and two overtimes.
“We tried to bring our bigs up and corral him and stay with him and we don’t care what their guy does because we want two on him,” Brett Brown described of the Cavaliers' final possession. “He is just incredibly elusive and skilled. You can’t keep him in front of you. He is just a really good player, he’s one of those unique guards in the NBA.”
Eleven seconds before Irving made his game-winning shot, Carter-Williams pulled up for a three-pointer with a hand in his face to tie the game at 125.
Before MCW’s heroics there was the baseline drive by Evan Turner with 8.7 seconds to go in the first overtime that tied the game, 116-116.
Turner finished with a career-high 31 points and 10 rebounds. It was his second consecutive double-double, while MCW had 21 points and 13 assists for his third career double-double.
And believe it or not there was actually another show stopper for the Sixers in the clutch -- Thaddeus Young used his speed to score a driving layup on the right side coming out of a timeout with 5.5 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 107.
Young made 11 of 18 shots for 29 points.
Such a triple crown deserved a better result.
“We fought through some tough calls and kept coming back,” Turner said. “Nine times out of ten we will pull those games out, especially at home.”
“We fought and kept competing and I think it just shows how relentless we are. It starts with coaching and it works its way down. Thad being one of the veterans on the team helped out. Same for me, and Mike stepped up. We played the whole way through.”
“I was proud of all of them,” Brown said. “They all came in and did a great job. Winning on the road is hard, winning back-to-back is hard, trying to steal one in double overtime is the hardest. We almost did it, but credit Cleveland. I leave proud of my guys.”
There will be a few plays that will have Brown saying "If only." With 1:02 to play in the second overtime the Sixers got a stop, trailing 121-120. MCW was not even over the half-court line when a whistle blew. Away from the ball, Spencer Hawes had been called for an offensive charge.
And twice in the extra sessions the Cavaliers came up with timely offensive rebounds -- two of their 14 at their own end.
“Inevitably, a rebound off a missed free throw haunts you. The charge with Spencer running the floor, that hurts you,” Brown said. “Subtle things always haunt you in such a close game.”
The Sixers led by 10 points at the end of three quarters but the Cavaliers opened the fourth quarter on an 11-2 run. After forcing overtime the Cavaliers hit the Sixers with a 6-0 run to open the first extra session.
“I told my guys how proud I was of them," Brown said. "That is just a great NBA game and to continue to fight and to continue to try and find any way possible to stay in the game and find a way to win, I am proud of them. The only negative of tonight is that we lost.”
The Sixers are 4-3 on the season with 5-1 San Antonio on the horizon.