Heading into Wednesday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Kyrie Irving had only played one game since December 8.
Irving had been sidelined with a heel contusion that he suffered after Dwight Powell accidentally fell on his leg and had a slow start in his return against the Utah Jazz.
He finished with 14 points and nine rebounds in that game, but he did not look like himself. This is understandable, especially after missing nearly a month, and this injury was not easy for Irving.
Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving turns fear to confidence in win over Trail Blazers
"Oh, yeah, I was scared, man," Irving said about his injury. "I was very scared. ... Once I got home, man, it was a struggle, just even going to sleep. You could feel the throbbing. I wasn't sure of the significance of the injury and how long I was going to be out."
Irving had already battled a foot injury earlier in the season, and this fear from him was certainly understandable. It was a scary moment for anyone watching the game, as Irving was clearly in serious pain, and it was a freak accident of a play.
Irving turned this former fear from the injury into dominance on Wednesday night as he finished with 29 points, nine rebounds, and five assists while shooting 10-19 from the field and 4-8 from downtown. Dallas defeated Portland 126-97, and Irving was key in the win.
"My foot was feeling great," Irving said. "Tonight was one of those nights where I wasn’t thinking about it and mentally I felt great from the start and you saw the result. I want to continue to build on that consistency, find my rhythm, continue to be aggressive, and do the right things for our team to win."
Irving was locked in from the opening tip and was showing no signs of pain or hindrance with his foot. He was playing with aggressiveness, and his confidence and assertiveness allowed the floor to open up for everyone else, making the offense flow beautifully.
"I thought Kai [Kyrie Irving] was great," Mavs head coach Jason Kidd said. "When you look at the shots that he got, he wasn’t hesitant. Any time he starts off the game looking for the 3, you know that he’s in a different mindset."
Luka Doncic also had a great game, as he finished with 41 points. Doncic seemingly couldn't miss, and he was scoring whenever he wanted from any spot on the floor.
Luka's dominance offensively has been a joy to see, and he has turned into an offensive juggernaut. If he and Kyrie continue to play this well, Dallas will be very hard to beat and Doncic could end up winning the MVP.
The Mavericks' next game is on Friday night against Portland.
For all the latest on Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, and the Dallas Mavericks this season, stay tuned.