Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving Scores 50 Points in Win Over Charlotte Hornets

Irving's third 50-point game as a Net is among the most efficient high-scoring games in NBA history

Kevin Durant took his turn at the microphone and returned the salute.

Two days earlier in Boston, when Kyrie Irving was asked about Durant’s surpassing the 25,000-point milestone in Sunday afternoon’s game against the Celtics, he simply put the microphone down and applauded.

Tuesday night in Charlotte after a 132-121 win over the Hornets, the first question Durant received was about Irving’s stunningly surgical 50-point night, and he did the same.

“Pure. Everything he does is pure,” said Durant. “It looked so easy tonight. I look up he had 10 points and it felt like he only took two shots in the first quarter and I told Seth (Curry) ‘I'm like damn, I didn’t know he had it cooking like that.’ And I seen it in his eyes to start the game. You know he wanted to play better last game, so he came out here tonight and wanted to impact the game from the start. He led us all night, he hit big shots when we needed to. And it was just incredible, incredible performance. It’s something like…younger players, you should watch this game learn what it takes to score at that level. At 5-10, 5-11 for him to score that easy, that was just a masterclass.”

In putting up his third 50-point game as a Net — there are eight others, but nobody else has done it more than once — Irving challenged the rarest feats in NBA history for volume and efficiency. He shot 15-for-19 overall (78.9 percent) and 9-for-12 (75.0 percent) from 3-point range. It was the second-fewest field goal attempts in a 50-point game in NBA history after Adrian Dantley took just 17 shots on Oct. 31, 1980. Irving also became the fifth player in NBA history, joining a list that includes Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, and Adrian Dantley, to have at least two career games with 50 points on 75 percent shooting.

In addition, Irving now has nine games with more than 40 points as a Net, second only to Vince Carter’s 17, and his nine 3-pointers matched the second-highest single-game total in his career. It was his fifth career 50-point game.

“It felt like a must-win night and I’m not saying that the other nights didn’t feel like that, but you’ve just gotta go into that deep place where you aren’t distracted by anything that’s going on and there’s a goal at hand when you step out there,” said Irving. “I just get less talkative and I have a look on my face where I’ll do what’s needed for us to get this win and join a collective group and just sacrifice and the results are the results.”

Irving had 12 points at the end of the first quarter and 20 by halftime as the Nets led 69-43, a lead that ballooned to 34 points in the third quarter.

There was just under a minute to go in the game when Irving maneuvered his way into the lane, hung through contact, and dropped in the finish to hit 50.

“Yeah. I’m not gonna sit here and lie to y’all,” said Irving. “I was aware, but just letting it come. Just letting it flow with the game and live with the results.”

“At the end I seen Seth (Curry) got a wide open 3 when Ky had 48, and on my mind, I'm like ‘you’re going to dagger them in the house, you knock that 3 down.’ And he swung it back to Ky, then I looked up and I’m like ‘oh had 48.’ So he’s one of those scorers that his shots are not like super-explosive, it’s just that he’s steady throughout the whole game and then you look up and he has a big scoring night,” said Durant. “So that shows you got truly gifted and talented and special and hardworking Kyrie is.”

That final finish gave Irving 16 points for the fourth quarter, his highest scoring period of the night, and the Nets needed it as the Hornets cut the Brooklyn lead to 13 points on several occasions. But it was consistently Irving who came up with the answer to dull the Charlotte momentum.

“He’s incredible,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “It’s a career highlight reel every night. We obviously have a special player on our hands and tonight he was unbelievably efficient and difficult to defend. Although you’d like to think we had the game in hand there’s still possessions where he kind of bailed us out from getting close to single digits. Those were really big shots he made in the second half but overall it’s just an incredible player, shotmaker.”

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