Kyrie Irving's NBA debut against the Toronto Raptors was completely forgettable, but he's been showing why he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft in four games since.
Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers look to win their third straight Wednesday night when they visit the Toronto Raptors.
While Cleveland saw Irving as a player it could build around when it drafted him last year, he struggled in his debut, scoring six points on 2-of-12 shooting in a 104-96 loss to Toronto on Dec. 26. He hit a meaningless 3-pointer in the final minute, and finished with seven assists and one turnover in 26 minutes.
Since that game, it's clear why the Cavaliers (3-2) are so high on Irving. He's averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 assists and is shooting 53.1 percent in his last four games.
Irving had 20 points, six assists and no turnovers in Cleveland's 115-101 win over Charlotte on Tuesday.
"Kyrie makes everyone around him better," coach Byron Scott said. "He gets more and more comfortable with each game. Tristan (Thompson is) in that same boat. He's starting to really understand his role and what he can do in this league."
Thompson, the fourth overall pick in the same draft, had his most effective game Tuesday with 16 points and nine rebounds. He's averaging 9.8 points and 5.2 boards.
Tuesday's victory moved the Cavaliers above .500 for the first time since Nov. 9, 2010, when they were 4-3. They won three straight only once last season, also coming in the opening weeks.
Cleveland has been better defensively since that last game against the Raptors, who shot 53.2 percent in the season opener. The Cavaliers' next three opponents didn't break 100 points and the last four have shot a combined 41.4 percent.
The Raptors (2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 90-85 win at New York on Monday.
Despite the scare, the Raptors gave up their fewest points of the season while holding New York to 35.9 percent shooting.
Bargnani, averaging 22.6 points, scored four in the final 47 seconds after the Knicks had pulled within a point. He came in averaging 4.0 points and shooting 25.0 percent in the fourth quarter, but went 4 of 4 at the line, finishing with six points in 12 minutes.
Dwane Casey wants Bargnani to take on a bigger role and the coach is liking what he's seeing. Bargnani is averaging close to 37 minutes per game and has been more aggressive on the boards, pulling down 7.6 a game.
"He ran the floor really well and ... he's really giving it to us on the defensive end," Casey said. "He's got to maintain that stamina on both ends and that's what he's doing."
The Raptors have won three of four against the Cavaliers.