NBA

Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving drops 41 points in scorching first half en route to career-high, franchise-record 60

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving scored a career-high 60 points — also a franchise record — during a 150-108 domination of the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.

As part of his career night, Irving put together one of the most impressive offensive halves of basketball in recent NBA history with a 41-point outburst in the first half.

In 23 first-half minutes, Irving went 14-for-19 from the field, 6-for-7 from beyond the arc and 7-for-7 from the free throw line while adding 3 rebounds and 3 assists. By the end of the half, the Orlando crowd was cheering Irving every time he hit a shot, a trend that gained even more energy throughout the game.

After hitting his final 3-pointer of the night to reach 60 points, Irving pointed to the ceiling and tapped his heart as the Magic fans gave him a standing ovation and sang « Kyrie! Kyrie! »

The Magic took a timeout right after the shot with 8:32 left in regulation as Irving got a hug from coach Steve Nash and high-fives and hugs from the rest of his teammates and coaches. Nets star forward Kevin Durant waved his arms in an effort to get the fans even louder.

Irving, 29, who finished the game 20-for-31 from the field, 8-for-12 from beyond the arc and 12-for-13 from the free throw line, set multiple records with his first-half showing. He was the highest-scoring half of his career and the highest-scoring half for any player this season.

The last player to score as many as Irving in a half was Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, who dropped 51 points in the second half of a March 24, 2017, game against the Boston Celtics. Booker finished that game with 70 points.

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Irving’s 41 points were the most one player has scored in one half against the Magic in the franchise’s history. The Nets’ 86 first-half points are also a franchise record — and the most the Magic have ever given up in one half.

Irving, who is currently able to play in only road games because of New York City’s vaccination mandate, entered Tuesday averaging 30.3 points in three March contests, including a 50-point performance in a March 8 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

With Tuesday’s performance, Durant — who scored 53 points in Sunday’s win over the New York Knicks — and Irving became the first teammates in NBA history to score 50 or more points in back-to-back games.

Irving spent a couple minutes on the bench during the first half while getting his left hand checked by the Nets’ training staff. He appeared to be in a little bit of discomfort with a small cut but stayed in the game after getting his thumb wrapped.

The Nets held an 86-56 lead at the break.

Irving earned even more cheers from the Orlando crowd in the second half, drawing oohs and ahhs in anticipation of each move to the basket. After an air-ball in the third quarter, many in the crowd rose to their feet and started chanting his name in appreciation of what they had seen throughout the night.

As it stands now, because of New York City’s vaccination mandate, Irving will be able to play in only three of the Nets’ final 13 games.

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