NBA scoring onslaught continues as Kyrie Irving bursts for Nets record 60 points
For the second time in two nights, one of the NBA’s 30 single-game team scoring records has fallen.
Twenty-four hours after Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns scored 60 points in San Antonio, Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving tied it with 60 points in Orlando, surpassing the previous franchise mark of 57 set by Deron Williams in 2012.
Irving’s outburst — also a career high — came just two games after she poured a ridiculous 50 on 19 shots against Charlotte. He wasn’t as effective against the Magic, but not by much. Averaging nearly two points per attempt, Irving shot 20 for 31 from the floor, including 8 for 12 from 3-point range, and was nearly perfect at the foul line (12 for 13).
Jersey displaying numbers.
— Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns) March 16, 2022
As these free-throw attempts attest, Irving attacked the rim with his usual poise, hitting at least one suspended, spinning layup that seemed to defy the laws of physics. But with 13 of his 20 marks coming from outside the paint, the degree of difficulty was almost as impressive as his final total.
“When you can get 60 in the flow of the game and you’re not making too many bad shots and the guys are supporting you, telling you to go get the record, that makes basketball worth it,” said Irving, whose former career-high was 57 points with the Cavaliers against San Antonio in 2015. “The ball was jumping, Steve (Nash) was calling my number, and I was going into the paint doing what I do.”
The scene for Irving’s record-breaking night was set in the first half, when Kyrie scored a staggering 41 points – the same tally as Wilt Chamberlain on his record-breaking 100-point night in 1962.
As the game wore on and the points piled up, the Magic began to abandon any solid defensive system, instead aggressively doubling Irving in hopes of forcing the ball out of his hands.
It did not work. Although Irving finished with “only” 19 in the second half, he also only played 12 minutes as the Nets ran away for a blowout 42 points. Magic fans responded in kind, treating Irving — not exactly the NBA’s most popular player given his ongoing COVID-19 vaccine saga — to multiple standing ovations in recognition of his record-breaking display of skill.
Glad to sit back and enjoy the show as well, fellow countryman Kevin Durant took just nine shots to finish with 19 points. It was a far cry from his previous game, when the Nets needed each of his 53 points to hold off the Knicks at Barclays Center as Irving was forced to watch from the sidelines due to New York’s vaccination mandate.
No teammate had ever scored consecutive 50-point games in NBA history. Not Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. Not Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Not LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Not Durant and Russell Westbrook. Person.
It was also their sixth 50-point outing in just two active seasons together, four for Irving and two for Durant. Every other player in Nets history, since their inception in 1967 as the ABA’s New Jersey Americans? Seven. (And remember: This is a franchise that once suited Julius Erving in his heyday.)
“Throughout the league, guys are putting in crazy numbers,” Irving said. “But when you have two guys on the same team, competing – friendly competition, brotherly competition – of course we talk about it. We really want to be scholars in this area. We take the game seriously. We want to be efficient with that.
So Irving’s masterpiece was as much a warning as it was a new entry in the Brooklyn Book of Records. Even if the Nets (36-33) continue to languish in eighth place, 3.5 games behind Cleveland, sixth place in the Play-In zone and a decreasing schedule to catch up the field, can you imagine a worse “reward” to take a top spot in your conference than having to defend Irving and Durant for seven games?
Provided, of course, that Irving is even available for all seven. He’s missed 50 of Brooklyn’s 69 games this season, and despite the Nets’ growing frustration with NYC’s tenure, there’s just one month left for a reversal of course before the start of the Play-In tournament on April 12.
But for one game, at least, that dispute was brushed aside and the focus stayed where it should be: on the hardwood, where Irving proved once again that every night he’s about as good as he is. to put the ball in the basket.