Kyrie Irving is certainly making the most of what little time he has left this season.
Irving left Tuesday night at the Amway Center and scored a career-high 60 points to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 150-108 victory over the Orlando Magic. He set a new franchise record and followed teammate Kevin Durant’s 53-point performance on Sunday, making them the first teammates in NBA history to have a 50-point game in back-to-back contests. .
Irving’s scoring outburst marks the 16th 50-point game so far this season, though eight of those have occurred in the last 15 days alone, most recently with the 60-point outing of Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl- Anthony Towns, Monday night. There haven’t been back-to-back 60-point games in the NBA since 1962.
“As you can see all over the league, guys are putting up crazy numbers,” Irving said, via the Yes Network. “But when you have two guys on the same team competing like that, friendly competition, brotherly competition, of course we talk about it, but we want to be experts on it. We don’t use that word lightly.”
41 of Irving’s 60 points came in the first half, where he shot an incredible 14 of 19 from the field and 6 of 7 from behind the arc. His run gave the Nets a 30-point halftime lead and set a new franchise record for most points scored in a single half.
Irving also came just one point short of matching Kobe Bryant’s league record of 42 points scored in the first half.
Irving quickly surpassed the 50-point mark in the third quarter after weaving through traffic and making a disputed layup over Wendell Carter Jr.
He then hit 60 after drilling a crossover 3 midway through the fourth quarter, prompting a huge celebration on the court.
Nets coach Steve Nash pulled Irving from the game and ended his night there. He shot 20 of 31 from the field and 8 of 12 from 3-point range in 35 minutes to get the 60 points from him. Durant added 19 points for the Nets in the 42-point win, and Patty Mills finished with 15 off the bench.
“I think it really is a testament to the way that we’ve been coming together as a team, and building trust with each other and doing the right things,” Irving said, via the Yes Network. “When you can get 60 in the flow of a game and it doesn’t look forced and you’re not throwing too many bad shots, and you get to the bench and the guys support you and tell you to go behind. the record, that makes basketball worthwhile.”
Irving is not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 and therefore cannot play in Nets games at Barclays Center due to a New York City mandate. With Irving insisting on remaining vaccine-free, and New York Mayor Eric Adams unwilling to budge on the mandate, Irving only has four regular-season games left that he can play this season.
The Nets have now won four in a row. They host the Dallas Mavericks next Wednesday, and Irving will have to be a spectator once again.