Kyrie Irving scores career-high 41 in black Zorro-like mask

Matt Eppers, USA TODAY Sports 11:38p.m. EST December 15, 2012

2012-12-15 Kyrie Irving Zorro mask

(Photo: Anthony Gruppuso, USA TODAY Sports)

In the end, the power of Zorro wasn’t quite enough to cool off the red-hot Knicks.

Cavaliers second-year point guard Kyrie Irving sported a black protective mask over his face Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. The new headwear didn’t seem to faze Irving, who poured in a career-high 41 points in Cleveland’s 103-102 loss to the New York Knicks.

BOX SCORE: Knicks 103, Cavaliers 102

Irving went 15-of-25 from the field, including 5-of-8 from three-point range, and added five assists and five rebounds just one night after breaking a bone in his jaw in a hard fall in Milwaukee. Irving was fitted for the mask Saturday morning and joined the Cavaliers in New York only about three hours before tip-off.

In brief comments before the game, Irving said the mask was “just precautionary.”

Irving scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and got the Cavaliers within 102-101 with a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left. Steve Novak hit one of two free throws for the Knicks before Anderson Varejao could only sink one of two for Cleveland.

Raymond Felton had 25 points and Tyson Chandler 23 for New York, which won its fourth straight and ninth in 10 games despite playing without Carmelo Anthony, who sprained his left ankle Thursday against the Lakers.

Even though the Cavaliers failed to get the win, Irving’s performance conjures up images of other masked players doing big things on the court.

Just last season, Kobe Bryant sported a mask for 11 games after Dwyane Wade accidentally broke Bryant’s nose in the All-Star Game. Bryant averaged 31.1 points with the mask and, like Irving, opted for the less-seen superhero-style black version.

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