After missing 26 games with a right shoulder impingement, Kyrie Irving didn't miss a beat in his first game back as the Brooklyn Nets secured a 108-86 win over the Atlanta Hawks at Barclays Center.
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"I really missed the game of basketball. I'm grateful to be out here man, I worked extremely hard to get back," Irving said post-game.
"We've got a long season ahead of us, a lot more goals to accomplish and it started tonight and we've got to continue to do it."
In just 20 minutes of action, Irving recorded 21 points on a near-perfect 10-of-11 from the field, adding four rebounds, and three assists.
He dazzled with an array of moves, scoring at the rim, from mid-range as well as knocking down his lone three-point attempt - putting on a show for the home crowd.
like...WHAT pic.twitter.com/YF6qsbOTbZ- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 12, 2020
Despite his lengthy layoff, Irving showed no signs of rust, with his 90.9 percent shooting from the field, the best percentage of his career.
The Hawks, who played without Trae Young (hamstring) shot just 33 percent from the field and 25.0 percent (12-of-48) from the three-point line, as they lost their fourth straight.
Rookie Cam Reddish led them in scoring with 20 points on 4-of-8 shooting from three, adding five steals, two assists and one monster dunk in the first quarter.
Carter played five seasons with the Nets in New Jersey and is third on the franchise's all-time scoring list.
🙌 @mrvincecarter15 checks out for the final time in Brooklyn! pic.twitter.com/FsBIDnWquA- NBA (@NBA) January 13, 2020
"Vince knows I'm coming for his record as one of the Nets' all-time leading scorers, but that man right there, give it up for VC man, give it up for VC man," Irving added post-game.
"Because that started back on the old Nets culture in New Jersey at Continental Airlines [Arena] and I was watching him as a kid do special things with J-Kidd [Jason Kidd] and Richard Jefferson, so man it's awesome to play against him, it's truly a grateful opportunity."