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. It was a performance that left both his teammates and coaches in awe.
"He's just incredible," Nets coach Steve Nash said. "I felt like he had my career highlight reel in the first 12 minutes of the game. It's special to watch him every night -- but it's special to watch him on nights like this, where he's in total control, total command. He gets wherever he wants and is able to finish amongst the trees. It's just a pleasure to see it up close and to be a part of it."
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.
"I'm sure in the first quarter y'all seen it developing," Nets star Kevin Durant said. "Sixteen in the first and then midway through the second all of us on the bench are still looking -- it's just like that every game for Ky, when you look up and, like, 'Damn, he got 10, 12, 14 points already.'
"We seen he was well on his way to a high-scoring night, so 60 -- the night after Karl Towns had an incredible performance, and then to have Kyrie do it the next night, the league is in an incredible place right now."
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 chanted "Kyrie! Kyrie!"
The Magic took a timeout right after the shot with 8:32 left in regulation as Irving got a hug from Nash and high-fives and hugs from the rest of his teammates and coaches as Durant waved his arms in an effort to get the fans even louder.
"I'm just glad that it wasn't an empty 50-plus game," Irving said.
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. It 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.
Irving's 41 points were the most one player has scored in one half against the Magic in the franchise's history, and his 60 total for the game was the most any player has scored in one game in the history of Amway Center. 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.
"Making history, man. making history," Irving said. "Doing it with that guy is very special. But credit goes to our group. Our guys in our locker room, they really believe in us, they really rock with us, there's not a doubt in our mind that they really believe that we can do something special. And not just this year, but for years to come. We have a good group. And we're all sacrificing something that's bigger than ourselves."
As it stands now, because of the mandate, Irving will be able to play in only three of the Nets' final 13 games. He remains hopeful that mayor Eric Adams will decide to roll back the mandate.
"My faith in things turning around hasn't changed, it hasn't wavered," Irving said. "But I wouldn't be able to sit up here and talk to you guys comfortably unless I had a big supporting group behind me. And they've been selfless this whole time."
Irving said he would be in attendance for Wednesday's game against the Dallas Mavericks at Barclays Center and joked that he would "probably wear a media pass." As for the fact he had to watch Sunday's win over the Knicks from a courtside seat, Irving admitted that it wasn't "the best feeling in the world."
"It's a little awkwardness," Irving said. "But showing up there with my family and getting a warm embrace from New York, Brooklyn, just everybody that's there to support the Nets and support our organization, support me. And just support what's going on out here and want to see a change."
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.
Irving earned even more cheers from the Orlando crowd in the second half, drawing oohs and aahs 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. It was at that moment he knew his night was different.
"Probably the air-ball," Irving said with a laugh. "To be honest with you. I was like, "Ah, I don't usually shoot these type of shots, but I'm just going to get in my Kobe bag real quick and live with the results. Triple-team coming at me and I just looked over at the coaching staff and they were just like, 'Keep playing.' ...
"When you're a kid scoring a bunch of points, it means something, but when you're in the best league in the world doing it against the greatest athletes that are playing our game, it means a little bit more."