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Kevin Durant just started cheering when asked about teammate Kyrie Irving’s 50-point performance on Tuesday night.
“It was a masterclass,” Durant said.
Irving hit nine 3-pointers and the Brooklyn Nets snapped a four-game skid with a 132-121 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Irving became one of 22 players in NBA history with five 50-point games, according to Basketball Reference. His career high was 57 points on March 12, 2015, when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in an overtime win over San Antonio.
“Young players should watch this game and learn what it takes to score at this level,” Durant said.
Durant had a quiet night by his high standards, finishing with 14 points.
But he didn’t have to do much lifting with Irving taking control of most of the game.
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Irving, who was only allowed to play in away games due to COVID-19 protocols in New York, finished 15 of 19 from the field and 9 of 12 from beyond the arc. He was also 11 of 13 from the line.
He became only the second guard in NBA history to have multiple 50-point games while shooting 75% from the floor, according to Stats. The other is Michael Jordan.
“It was special,” Seth Curry said. “He made great plays all over the floor. He didn’t force it. Catching and shooting, getting out of the dribble and getting to the edge too. We needed that Kyrie.”
Durant said Irving had “that look in his eye” before the game, and the former Duke point guard agreed.
“It felt like a must-night party,” Irving said. “I’m not saying other nights weren’t like this, but you have to go to that deep place where you’re not distracted by everything that’s going on.”
Durant added: “Everything he does is so pure. It looked so easy tonight. I looked up and he had 10 points and I felt like he took two hits .”
Andre Drummond dominated inside, finishing with 20 points and 14 rebounds for Brooklyn, which fell to .500 this season and became the only eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, breaking a tie with the Hornets. .
Miles Bridges and Terry Rozier each finished with 30 points for Charlotte, whose two-game winning streak was snapped. LaMelo Ball added 24 points and seven assists for the Hornets.
The Nets took a 69-43 lead behind Irving’s 20 points in the first half. The Hornets didn’t help themselves, repeatedly committing turnovers with lazy passes, including two by Ball on back-to-back possessions.
Brooklyn extended their lead to 34 points in the second half before the Hornets cut it to 13 with less than four minutes left in the game. But Irving, as he had done throughout the second half, thwarted the rally by knocking down a jumper.
“He’s amazing. He’s a career highlight every time, every night,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “Obviously we have a special player on our hands and tonight he was incredibly efficient and difficult to defend against. … Those were some really big shots he landed in the second half but overall it’s just an amazing player, shooter.”
The Hornets used a number of players to defend Irving, but just couldn’t stop him.
“He hit hard,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “We double-crossed him, changed our covers and gave him different looks, but we have to give him credit.”
GET HARD NEXT
The Nets travel to Philadelphia to face former teammate James Harden and the 76ers on Thursday night in what should be an interesting, if not entertaining night.
Irving said he had no hard feelings towards Harden, who was looking to leave Brooklyn.
“It’s okay,” Irving said. “It makes for good stories, it makes for good narratives and good building for our league. It’s never too personal, but we understand as competitors that we want to win the game. … But it’s not not about us and individual clashes, it’s about being a great team and building on what we set out to do.”
Nets: Durant was given a technical foul in the third quarter for pushing Rozier while trying to break free for an inbound pass. …Curry picked up a technique for discussing a call.
Hornets: Jalen McDaniels, who has been out since Jan. 21 with an ankle injury, has returned to action. He played nine minutes and had two points. … Montrezl Harrell was given a technical foul when he shoved Nic Claxton.
Nets: At the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.
Hornets: Host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.