The Nets won a lop-sided 150-108 victory over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night, which was largely propelled by All-Star guard Kyrie Irving’s 60 points — including 41 in the first half.
The team scored a franchise-record 86 points in the first half of the road game, which is the Nets’ fourth-straight victory.
Irving accounted for 41 of Brooklyn’s first half points, and finished the night with 60, along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists — despite sitting the majority of the fourth quarter.
The point guard fell 18 points shy of the NBA record for baskets in a single half, which is held by Wilt Chamberlain, who dropped 59 in two quarters in 1962 (Chamberlain finished that game with an NBA-record 100 points).
When asked about the gamesmanship between himself and Durant, Irving acknowledged the friendly competition in the Brooklyn locker room, but highlighted how he and his future Hall-of-Fame teammate improve each other’s game.
“That’s what it’s about,” he said. “When you have two guys on the same team, competing like that — that friendly competition, brotherly competition… of course we talk about it,” he said. “But we really just want to be savants at this. And we don’t use that word lightly.”
Head coach Steve Nash sent Irving to the bench with 8:32 remaining in the game, as the Magic crowd chanted various forms of “We want Kyrie!”
“When you can get 60 in the flow of a game, and it doesn’t feel forced — and you’re not putting up a few too many bad shots — and you come to the bench, and guys are supporting you, to go after the record… that’s what makes basketball well worth it,” Irving said after the game.
Six other Nets — Kevin Durant, Bruce Brown, Andre Drummond, Nic Claxton, Kessler Edwards, and Patty Mills — scored double-digit points in the overwhelming Brooklyn win.
The historic victory propelled the team to a 36-33 record, which puts them in 8th place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, with 14 games remaining in the regular season.
As the playoff picture currently stands, the Nets would play the Toronto Raptors in the 7-8 matchup of the NBA’s play-in tournament, with the loser playing the victor of the 9-10 matchup, which, as presently constructed, would be between the Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets.
That means the Nets would have two chances in sudden-death matchups to win one game, in order to gain entry into the best-of-7 NBA playoffs.
Irving, meanwhile, is still barred from playing home games at Barclays Center, as well as away games against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, due to mandates that New York City employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 (which Irving is not).
He is also banned from entering Canada, which would complicate any potential matchup against the Raptors in Toronto.
Meanwhile, when asked by the Brooklyn Game, a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams said the administration would continue to examine COVID-19 data, and make a determination about potentially lifting the employee mandate to allow Irving to play home games.
“We are not gonna predict what’s gonna happen in 3-4 weeks, but we are going to look at the data, and make the best decision on behalf of all New Yorkers,” the Adams rep said.