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Brooklyn Nets still ‘believe that we can do something special,’ as Kyrie Irving scores career-high 60

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 match.

“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 coach Steve 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 campaign.

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 versus 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 victory 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.

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.

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