CLEVELAND — Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving started Thursday’s 107-87 rout of the Nets despite being listed as sick. It’d be hard to blame the West Orange, NJ, native for being ill after the past few days, with his private life dragged through the news and his ex-girlfriend reportedly hospitalized following an intimated suicide attempt.
Cleveland had gotten stunned 104-95 seven days earlier in Brooklyn. But on Thursday, the Cavs thrashed a Nets team that sat Brook Lopez and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and relied on 18 points from Thaddeus Young.
Still, all the attention was on Irving.
On Monday, a rapper named PartyNextDoor — another ex-boyfriend of R&B singer Kehlani — posted a since-deleted picture on Instagram of the two holding hands, presumably implying she’d cheated on Irving.
Then Kehlani posted a picture of an IV attached to her right arm that night and included a caption that read in part “today I wanted to leave this earth,” suggesting that she’d attempted suicide.
But a focused Irving had 10 points and three assists Thursday, insisting it hasn’t been hard to ignore the drama and focus on basketball.
“It hasn’t been difficult. I’ve been through a ton of adversity in my life. It’s nothing anyone can say that I can’t get through,’’ said Irving, adding, “[With] everything surrounding our team, it’s crazy to think we’re still in first place and we’re still the team to beat, honestly, regardless of what anybody else says.’’
Irving first addressed the situation Wednesday night with since-deleted tweets captured on a screen grab by Cleveland Sports Talk.
“It’s been hard to see what’s been going on and not address the truth. I do not justify the picture or what (that) dude did to try and spark all of this non sense [sic] that could have been avoided, but Me and Kehlani were not dating when the picture came out. It’s unfortunate that it’s received so much attention but its [sic] become bigger because of a post that was misunderstood. Nothing but love and compassion over this way for her and her family. My only focus the Game I love to play every night.”
“He’s got my support, and he knows it,’’ said LeBron James, who had 24 points and 11 assists, passing Dominique Wilkins for 12th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
“I just think as a team we’re all there for him. It’s our job to make sure he’s OK, he’s in good hands. And just being around his teammates and being around the guys he competes with every night makes him at ease,’’ said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue.
When asked by The Post whether he took it upon himself to talk to Irving, 24, Lue answered: “I’d rather not speak about that. Yes, I talked with Kyrie. But that’s between us. And like I said, our team, we all have his back and we’re with him 100 percent.’’