Kyrie Irving scored a career-high 60 points in a dazzling display as the Brooklyn Nets stretched their NBA winning streak with a 150-108 thrashing of the Orlando Magic.
Nets star Irving — who had bagged 50 points last week in a victory over Charlotte — delivered another performance for the ages against an outclassed Magic at Orlando’s Amway Center.
Irving’s tour de force surpassed his previous career best of 57 points, set in 2015 while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers in a victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
“I felt good,” Irving said after his epic display. “It really is a testament to the way we’ve been gelling as a team — us just giving each other confidence and doing the right things.
“When you can get 60 in the flow of the game and it doesn’t seem forced, and you’re not putting up a few too many bad shots, and you come to the bench and guys are supporting you, telling you to go after the record — that makes the basketball worth it.”
The 29-year-old Australian-born seven-time All-Star made 20-of-31 from the field, making eight of 12 attempts from outside the arc.
A career-high performance for Irving looked inevitable after an explosive first half from Brooklyn.
The Nets piled on 48 points in the first quarter alone before adding 38 in the second quarter to lead 86-56 at half-time.
Irving contributed 41 points in that devastating first half, leaving him only 16 shy of his individual record.
He brought up 50 points — the sixth half-century of his career — with a driving layup in the third quarter, prompting appreciative chants of “Kyrie, Kyrie” from the Orlando crowd.
Two free throws saw him reach his record at 57 and then a magical three-point pull-up from 26 feet saw him hit the 60-point mark.
– ‘Crazy numbers’ –
Irving’s points haul came 24 hours after the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns scored 60 in a victory over the Spurs.
It is the first time different players have scored 60 points or more on consecutive nights in the NBA since 1962.
It also came two days after team-mate Kevin Durant scored 53 in a weekend win over the New York Knicks.
Irving admitted the friendly rivalry with Durant was spurring him on.
“Across the league guys are putting up crazy numbers, but when you have two guys on the same team competing, friendly competition, brotherly competition,” Irving said.
“Of course we talk about it but we really want to be savants about this. We take the game seriously, we want to be efficient with it, and make everyone feel good. And prove to every team in the league we can be efficient defensively and offensively.”
Irving admitted the ovation from the Orlando crowd had been a career first.
“This is what the game is about, just bringing the love, performing well and doing it with a humble approach,” he said.
Nets coach Steve Nash was left awestruck by Irving’s display.
“He’s just incredible,” Nash said. “I felt like he had my career highlight reel in the first 12 minutes of the game,” the two-time NBA MVP said.
“It’s special to watch him every night, but it’s even more special on a night like this, where he gets whatever he wants and has total command. A pleasure to see it up close and be a part of it.”
Six other Nets players finished with double-digit points tallies, with Durant adding 19 points, Patty Mills 15 and Kessler Edwards 14.
Cole Anthony led Orlando’s scoring with 19 points.
Brooklyn’s fourth consecutive win saw the Nets improve to 36-33 to keep their hopes of an automatic playoff berth alive. The Nets are eighth in the Eastern Conference, three wins behind the sixth placed Cavaliers.
Orlando meanwhile remain rooted to the foot of the Eastern Conference with an 18-52 record.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, the conference-leading Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat both had comfortable wins.
The Suns downed the New Orleans Pelicans 131-115 to extend their lead at the top of the Western Conference, with Devin Booker scoring 27 points.
The Heat meanwhile downed the Detroit Pistons 105-98.
Tyler Herro led the Miami scoring with 29 points, but the Heat were given an injury scare when Jimmy Butler hobbled off with an ankle injury.
In the night’s other game, the Memphis Grizzlies romped past the Indiana Pacers 135-102.