CLEVELAND — Count Doc Rivers of Boston as one coach who thinks Kyrie Irving should be on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
It’s easy to see why after Irving scored 15 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter, including several late baskets, to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 95-90 victory Tuesday night over the Celtics.
“He has all the numbers to be an All-Star, for sure,” Rivers said. “Whether he makes it or not is another story. He’s a tough kid, which I don’t think people give him enough credit for.”
The reserves, picked by the coaches in each conference for the Feb. 17 game in Houston, will be announced Thursday. Irving, who made a strong final case, has Rivers’ vote despite the fact the Cavaliers have struggled.
“It’s a hard one for me to pick a guy from a team with 11 wins, but he’s just playing so well,” Rivers said.
Cleveland Coach Byron Scott also thinks Irving belongs in the game.
“If you look at the point guards in the Eastern Conference, name one having a better season,” he said. “I’ll wait.”
Irving had 11 points in the final 2:33 on four layups and three free throws to give Cleveland back-to-back wins at home for the first time this season and send Boston to its season-high fourth straight loss.
Irving shot 16 of 24, setting a career high for field goals made, and fell one point short of his career-best scoring total, set Dec. 15 at New York.
Asked if he was making a statement to be included on the All-Star team, Irving said, “I was just trying to get a win. It was more of a statement game for the Cavaliers.”
Rivers was hoping the Celtics would make a statement, but instead watched another frustrating loss.
The Celtics have dropped four straight since winning six straight. Rivers blasted his team following Sunday’s 103-88 loss in Detroit, when Boston never led. The latest loss dropped Boston to 20-21.
“I believe we should be better than that — and we’re not — so it’s hard,” Rivers said. “You’ve got to make your own breaks and we’ve got to make ours.”
Rajon Rondo led Boston with 17 points; Kevin Garnett scored 16. Paul Pierce, who scored 40 points in a 103-91 win over the Cavaliers in Boston on Dec. 19, finished with 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting.
“We’ve just got to be better, period,” Garnett said. “We’ve got to try to figure this thing out because it’s not going to change itself. I want it so bad but I’ve got to find a balance. I’ve got to do better for 48 minutes, man.”
Irving’s layup gave Cleveland an 84-83 lead with 2:33 remaining. He followed with another layup after Rondo’s turnover to put the Cavs up by three. Four free throws by Garnett sandwiched around a basket by Alonzo Gee left Cleveland with an 88-87 lead.
After Garnett missed a baseline jumper, Irving dribbled past midcourt and drove to the basket for a three-point lead with 52 seconds remaining.
Following another miss by the Celtics, the Cavaliers called a time out. Irving dribbled into the lane and hit a twisting shot while being fouled by Jared Sullinger. He made the free throw to put Cleveland ahead 93-87 with 22.8 seconds left.
After Pierce shot an airball, Irving made two more free throws with 18.2 seconds left to put the game away.
Tristan Thompson added 21 points for the Cavaliers.