Kyrie Irving's franchise-record 60 points lead Nets over Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Kyrie Irving Road-Only Show was a gigantic hit on Tuesday night as the Nets guard scored a career-high and franchise record 60 points in a 150-108 demolition of the helpless Magic at Amway Center.
Too bad for the Nets that Irving is going into mothballs for the next three games.
Under current New York City COVID-19 rules, the unvaccinated Irving cannot play in the Nets’ next three games, all in Brooklyn, starting with Wednesday’s tilt against Dallas.
Unless something changes quickly, Irving’s next appearance will come on March 23 when the Nets visit Memphis.
"We’re in a unique situation," coach Steve Nash said. "There’s no guide to this."
In 34:56, Irving shot 20 of 31 from the field, 8 of 12 from three and 12 for 13 from the line. And now he gets to rest.
Under current rules, Irving is eligible to play in three of the Nets’ final 13 regular-season games (and one of the last eight).
If the Nets meet the Toronto Raptors in the play-in tournament, Irving will be ineligible under current rules in both New York and Toronto. At the moment, Toronto is the seventh seed in the East with the Nets eighth. If that holds — or even if the teams flip positions — the Nets will meet the Raptors in the "seven-eight" play-in game without Irving.
Perhaps Tuesday’s revelation that unvaccinated players on the Yankees and Mets will be unable to play in home games unless the rules change by next month will spur the city to permit Irving to suit up at Barclays Center just in time for the end of the NBA regular season.
"My faith in things turning around hasn’t changed, it hasn’t wavered," said Irving, who had a wrap on his left thumb after taking a bump in the first quarter. "Who would have thought at the end of the season we’d be dealing with the same questions over and over again every day?"
Irving scored 41 in the first half as the Nets (36-33) built up a 30-point halftime lead in their fourth straight victory. The Magic, the worst team in the Eastern Conference, fell to 18-52.
The Orlando crowd started chanting "Kyrie, Kyrie" after Irving hit the 50-point plateau with a driving layup with 5:02 left in the third quarter.
It was Irving’s fourth 50-plus point game as a Net, which is a franchise record, and his second in a week. Irving scored 50 last Tuesday at Charlotte.
He made it to 60 with a three-pointer with 8:32 left in the fourth and then left the game for good.
The previous franchise record for points was 57 by Deron Williams in 2012. Irving’s previous career best was 57 for Cleveland in 2015.
"Just incredible," Nash said. "Special to watch him on nights like this where he’s in total control, total command, gets whatever he wants and is able to finish among the trees. It’s just a pleasure to see it up close."
Kevin Durant, who scored 53 against the Knicks on Sunday, had 19. Durant and Irving are the first teammates to have 50-point games back-to-back in NBA history.
"Making history, man," Irving said. "Doing it with that man is very special."
Irving scored 26 points in the first quarter and finished the half with 41 as the Nets took an 86-56 lead into halftime. The Nets set a franchise record for points in a half and scored their most points overall this season.
Irving scored the most points in a first half in the NBA since Kobe Bryant had 42 for the Lakers in 2003. Irving tied Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota for the most points in a game this season. Towns scored 60 on Monday against San Antonio.
Irving’s most recent appearance at a Nets game was as a fan at Barclays. That cost the Nets a $50,000 fine from the NBA after Irving visited the team’s locker room at halftime.
Irving said he plans to attend Wednesday’s game.