Kyrie. Irving. ‘That’s the whole tweet’.
Irving scored a career-high 60 points Tuesday night, setting a Brooklyn Nets franchise record. Irving made 20 of 31 field goal attempts, 12 of 13 free throw attempts, and 8 of 12 three-point attempts as the Brooklyn Nets routed the Orlando Magic, 150-108.
Behind Irving’s otherworldly play, the Nets set an all-time franchise record for points scored in any half of play (86 points scored in Tuesday’s first half). Consequently, the 86 points Brooklyn scored were the most points the Orlando Magic have ever given up in a half in team history, and Irving’s 41 first half points were the most the franchise has ever given up to a single player in any half.
“Kyrie Irving. At the end of the day, that’s what it was,” Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley told reporters after the game, when asked about his team’s defensive performance against the Nets. “He was comfortable on the floor, and he’s a great basketball player. What he did tonight, he showed it. You've got to tip your hat to him, tip your hat to their team (and what they’ve done). He’s a special player.”
Irving and All-NBA teammate Kevin Durant are the first teammates in NBA history to score 50 or points in consecutive team games (Durant had 53 points on Sunday against the New York Knicks).
Brooklyn had an absurdly hot start to the game, converting 15 of their first 20 field goal attempts.
The Nets were led by Irving, who the Magic were facing for the first time this season. The seven-time All-Star knocked-down his first five shots, four of those coming from beyond the arc. Irving scored 16 of Brooklyn’s 48 opening quarter points, marking the most points the Nets have scored in any quarter all season (and setting a franchise record for most points ever scored in a single quarter). The 48 points also marked the most points Orlando allowed in a single quarter at any point during the 2021-22 season.
Durant was heavily involved from the opening tip for Brooklyn as well, scoring 10 points and dishing out 5 assists in the first quarter.
Orlando 20-somethings Franz Wagner (20) and RJ Hampton (21) - who was starting for an injured Jalen Suggs - drew the initial defensive assignments of trying to slow down Durant and Irving. The veteran superstars were in constant attack mode early on, challenging Magic defenders off the dribble, in pick-and-roll situations, and taking the ball to the rim.
Brooklyn shot 74.1 percent from the field through the game’s first twelve minutes (83.3 percent from beyond the arc) while dishing out 13 assists on their 20 made field goals.
“I think we just let them get in a really good rhythm early on,” F. Wagner told reporters after the game. “Easy three’s on the pick-and-rolls, not getting back in transition, getting a bunch of easy ones at the rim. And then after that, I just think they’re really hard to stop when they’re already in rhythm.”
It took the Nets a total of 17:00 minutes of game action to build a 20-point lead on the Magic, who were executing their offense with a moderate amount of success as well. They just couldn’t match the pace and offensive firepower Brooklyn was playing with.
Oh, and Irving was just getting started. Brooklyn pushed their lead to 30 points behind a 25 point second quarter by Irving. The 11th-year guard made 8 of 11 shots in the second (and went 7 for 7 at the line), including two miraculous three-point field goals off the dribble.
To Orlando’s credit, they didn’t roll over after their spirit was clearly broken in the first half of play. The young Magic team came out energized and inspired in the third quarter, scoring 20 of the first 30 points scored in the period.
“Our guys fought in the second half,” Mosley said after the game Tuesday. “They just tried to continue to keep going no matter what’s happening. But again, your hat’s off to Brooklyn (and Kyrie) and what they did tonight - you have to.”
The Magic actually outscored Brooklyn 33-30 in the third, so that was a miniature win. And they were able to hold Irving to just 10 points in the period, which was a major improvement from the first half.
But he did score his 50th point midway through the third quarter in grand fashion...
“Basically, after the first half, we wanted to get the ball out of his hands as much as possible (for the rest of the game),” Wagner told reporters. “Even that didn’t really work. Tried to double-team him whenever. But like I said, players like that - you just can’t let them be comfortable early on. Many times - good defense or bad defense - they just make them.”
Irving was on the floor to start the fourth quarter, and it took him just over three minutes to hit the sixty-point mark. He crossed reserve forward Admiral Schofield over en route to a smooth jumper from the right wing to begin the period, and finished his brief stint on the court in the fourth with a final crossover and three-point make off the dribble from the left wing to set a new career-high.
Durant finished with 19 points and 7 assists on a night when he was rarely counted upon.
Orlando was led by Wendell Carter Jr., who scored 18 points (6-11 FGA’s) and grabbed 7 rebounds. Cole Anthony added 19 points and 7 assists.
The Wagner brothers (Franz and Moritz) combined to score 33 points for the Magic - Franz with 16 points, and Moritz with 17.
The 150 points Brooklyn scored were the most points ever scored against the Magic in a single-game in franchise history. Irving’s 60 points were the second most points ever scored against Orlando.
It will be back to the drawing board for a defense in Orlando that has been among the league’s best since the All-Star break. The Magic will look to rebound from Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons at the Amway Center Thursday night.