CLEVELAND (AP) — Kyrie Irving didn't need any reminders he was closing in on his first career triple double Friday night. He got plenty of help anyway.
"I was trying to not think about it too much, but my teammates were hollering at me to get one more rebound, Coach (Mike) Brown was telling to get one more rebound, a couple of fans were yelling at me that I need one more," Irving said. "I said, 'I got you guys, don't worry.' "
The All-Star Game MVP had 21 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 99-79 win over the Utah Jazz.
Two rebounds shy of the mark going into the fourth quarter, Irving grabbed his ninth rebound early in the period and pulled down his 10th with 4:12 to go to become the first Cleveland player with a triple double since LeBron James on March 16, 2010, at Detroit.
Irving gave credit for his last rebound to center Spencer Hawes, who joked he pulled back a bit on a missed shot by Marvin Williams.
"Luckily, Spence alligator-armed that one, like he said, to let me get that last one," Irving said.
Irving received standing ovations when he reached the milestone and when he was pulled from the game a few seconds later. That support went a step too far earlier in the quarter when a young fan wearing a stocking cap raced on the floor and patted Irving on the shoulder. The fan was wrestled to the floor by several policemen and security guards and led away in handcuffs.
Irving joked that the fan was a long-time friend and suggested it might have been better if he had waited until after the game.
"He told me loved me and I told him I loved him back," said Irving, who also had a fan enter the court at Quicken Loans Arena last season to congratulate him. "My teammates said I was scared. I don't think I looked scared. I flinched a little bit. I was surprised."
Cleveland dominated the second half to earn the win and gain ground in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers trail Atlanta by 3½ games for the eighth position. The final game of February capped quite a month for Irving and the team. An embarrassing loss to the depleted Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 6 stretched Cleveland's losing streak to six games and general manager Chris Grant was fired the following day.
Just when it looked like the season was a lost cause, the Cavaliers won six in a row and Irving took over the All-Star Game with 31 points and 14 assists. With 22 games remaining, Cleveland has a chance to reach the playoffs in Irving's third season in the NBA.
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