He might not play every night, but when Kyrie Irving is in the Brooklyn Nets’ starting lineup, it’s always a rough game for the opposing team. Tuesday’s victims were the Orlando Magic, who suffered as Irving laid a Nets franchise record 60 points en route to 150-108 dub.
Irving shot 20-for-31 from the field on a night where superstar teammate Kevin Durant only took nine attempts. The Nets overall shot 60.2 percent from the field–in other words the whole squad put up pretty much unbeatable numbers.
In fairness, the Magic are terrible, winning a paltry 18 games to 52 losses on this year’s campaign. Their conference record is 10 wins to 34 Ls, and they’re twenty eight games behind the first place Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
But the Nets haven’t been world beaters themselves this season. They’ve been surrounded by drama over Irving’s vaccination status and his inability to play at Brooklyn’s Barclays center and other arenas in cities or states with vaccine mandates. Just yesterday, the Nets were fined $50,000 by the NBA for letting Irving enter the team’s locker room at the Barclays on Sunday in violation of New York’s mandate.
The disgruntled third piece of their big three, James Harden, was traded away to the 76ers last month for Ben Simmons, who hadn’t played for that team and still hasn’t played in a game for the Nets.
None of that mattered Tuesday night in Orlando. Irving started fast, dropping 41 of his 60 in the first half, 16 of those in the first quarter. He was eight-for-12 from three point land. Maybe it’s all the rest: Irving has only played in three games so far in March but has averaged 30.3 points in those games.
The Nets, currently eighth in the East, have 13 games left in their regular season schedule, with Irving eligible to play in as many as three, all road games against Memphis, Miami and Atlanta. A fourth “away” game is scheduled for April 6 against the New York Knicks but under current rules Irving won’t be eligible to suit up in Madison Square Garden.