ORLANDO, Fla. — In a career of great offensive nights, this was Kyrie Irving’s greatest.
The Nets star’s mesmerizing 60 points were a career-high and a franchise record, while matching an NBA season-best.
Those 60 points also led the Nets to their fourth consecutive win, a 150-108 rout of the Magic, as Irving was showered with cheers and serenaded with chants of “Kyrie! Kyrie!” from the Amway Center crowd of 15,282.
The irony of the Magic crowd reveling in Irving’s magic while he still can’t play on his home court at Barclays Center wasn’t lost on the Nets. Now Irving have to sit out the next three games, including the tail end of this back-to-back Wednesday when the Nets host the Mavericks. But while Irving may be a part-time player, on this night he gave the Nets an all-time performance.
Irving led the eighth-place Nets (36-33) to their highest-scoring game of the season, and helped them keep pace, 2 ½ games behind the streaking Raptors, who are seventh in the Eastern Conference.
“We just have to pick up more, man, [we] just have to pick up more,” Irving said before the game of the Nets building momentum and solidifying themselves in the play-in, or perhaps even climbing out of that play-in altogether. “But I think the mentality in our locker room is just one day at a time, and control what we can control.”
If Irving and Kevin Durant (19 points, seven assists, five rebounds) are having some kind of scoring challenge, it’s a historic one.
After Irving poured in 50 points exactly a week earlier at Charlotte, Durant topped it with 53 on Sunday against the Knicks. Irving’s answer was a mesmerizing deep-in-his-bag performance to beat the Magic, making the Nets’ dynamic duo the first teammates in NBA history to score at least 50 in consecutive games.
Irving was cheered throughout by the Orlando crowd.
“That’s what the game’s about. It’s just about that camaraderie, that brotherhood, that sisterhood,” Irving said after scoring 50 against the Hornets. “Everyone loves the game of basketball that’s coming to watch it, so I want to put on a good performance, the people up top and people sitting courtside. So just grateful that I’m able to do that and get a warm reception.”
Against the Magic, Irving put on a show in a white-hot shooting performance. He finished 20-for-31, and 8-for-12 from behind the 3-point arc.
His final 3-pointer, with 8:32 left to play, gave him the record 60 points.
His first-half output, 41 points, was the second-highest total since such stats have been tracked, one shy of his idol Kobe Bryant’s 42 on March 28, 2003 against the Wizards. Bryant finished with 55 that game, but Irving shot right past that.
He spotted the Nets an 86-56 cushion as they headed into the locker room for halftime, with Irving cheered off the floor by the Magic fans. It was the highest-scoring half in Nets history, and their first 30-point halftime lead on the road since April 3, 2013 at Cleveland.
The second half was simply perfunctory, as the Nets led by as many as 44 points.