A little over 24 hours after being selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team in Houston, the Cavaliers' dynamic point guard put on a show.
Irving scored 35 points and Cleveland rallied from a 20-point deficit in the third quarter to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 113-108 on Friday night.
The reigning rookie of the year scored 24 points in the second half, including 16 in the third when the Cavaliers got back in the game. Irving added eight points in the final 4:01 as Cleveland posted back-to-back wins for only the second time this season.
Coming off a 40-point performance against Boston on Tuesday, Irving hit 12 of 17 from the field and made all nine of his free throws. He missed one shot in nine attempts in the second half.
"The last couple of games have been fun," Irving said. "Even at practice, we just know when we're going to be focused to dial it up and get that attitude."
Irving is also following instructions from Cavaliers coach Byron Scott.
"Coach told me to be aggressive and I'll continue to be aggressive," he said.
"He's a hell of a young player," Scott said. "When we drafted him we knew that. When we got him at practice we knew we had really struck gold because I didn't think he was as good as he was until we had him in training camp. Then we were really excited. We said this kid is a lot better than we thought."
Cleveland, which trailed 79-59 midway through the third quarter, took a 96-95 lead on a 3-pointer by newly acquired Wayne Ellington with 6:31 to play. The basket was his first since joining the Cavaliers from Memphis on Tuesday, and it gave Cleveland the lead for good.
Ersan Ilyasova scored a season-high 30 points and Monta Ellis added 21, but the Bucks' collapse ended their three-game winning streak. Even hitting a season-high 14 3-pointers in 28 attempts couldn't save Milwaukee.
"In the second, third and fourth quarters, we gave them 30-plus points," Bucks interim coach Jim Boylan said. "They kind of had their way with us. They played well and deserved to win the game."
Following Ellington's basket, a 3-pointer by Daniel Gibson, a breakaway layup by Shaun Livingston and a foul shot by Marreese Speights helped Cleveland build a 102-95 lead.
Ellis' 3-pointer cut the margin to 102-98, but Irving's basket gave Cleveland a six-point lead. Baskets by Brandon Jennings and Larry Sanders made it 104-102, but Speights, also acquired in the deal with Memphis, hit a basket and a foul shot to put the Cavaliers ahead 107-102 with 1:06 remaining.
Ilysaova's basket made it a three-point game, but Irving added a jumper and four free throws to put it away.
Milwaukee, which led 59-50 at halftime, hit its first four shots of the third quarter, including another 3-pointer by Ilyasova and Jennings' first basket of the game. That led to a quick timeout by Scott, but lead reached 79-59 midway through the period before the Cavaliers cut the margin to 90-81 by the end of the period thanks mostly to Irving, who hit 5 of 6 from the field.
The Cavaliers trimmed the lead to 90-87 early in the fourth quarter and outscored the Bucks 32-18 in the period. Scott went with a combination of Luke Walton, Gibson, Livingston, Speights and Ellington for most of the quarter.
"It's pretty simple," Scott said. "I told my guys to thank the second unit. They won the game for us."
"We started aggressively, but we kind of gave up the game," Ilyasova said. "Their second unit hustled and we gave up a lot of easy buckets."
Tristan Thompson scored 18 points and Dion Waiters added 16 for the Cavaliers. Livingston scored 12 points. Speights had 10 points and had six rebounds in 18 minutes.
Jennings, who was left off the Eastern Conference All-Star team by coaches picking the reserves, scored 14 points for the Bucks, but was 5 of 19 from the field and was scoreless in the first half. He finished with 12 assists. Sanders had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bucks are 6-3 under Boylan, who replaced Scott Skiles on Jan. 8.
Trailing 31-30 early in the second quarter, Ilyasova hit three 3-pointers in 1:29 to help the Bucks build a 41-33 lead. The margin reached 11 points and the Bucks were ahead 59-50 at halftime. Milwaukee scored 38 points in the quarter - a season high for any period this season - and hit 15 of 24 from the field.
NOTES: Milwaukee hasn't had a player in the All-Star Game since 2004 when Michael Redd made the team. ... The Bucks host Golden State on Saturday night. ... Milwaukee is 17-10 against Eastern Conference teams. ... .. Cleveland G C.J. Miles, who had been battling the flu, dressed, but didn't play. ... Cleveland is 2-9 against the Central Division. ... The Cavaliers play at Toronto on Saturday.