It’s been a highly emotional week around the NBA. After news of Kobe Bryant’s death on Sunday, Nets point guard Kyrie Irving decided to sit out Brooklyn’s game against the cross-town Knicks. When Irving did return to the lineup on Wednesday to face the Pistons, he was still visibly struggling through his grief even before tip off.
He still managed to put up 20 points and five assists as the Nets were able to get the 125-115 win. But Friday night against the Bulls was a different story altogether. In true Mamba fashion, Irving came out gunning from the opening tip, and the result was a scoring explosion worthy of his late mentor.
Irving finished the game with 54 points, and he did it on 19-for-23 shooting from the night (82.6 percent), including 7-for-9 from downtown as Brooklyn got the 133-118 win over Chicago.
After the game, Irving credited his mentality for his big night. As you can guess, it was a mentality inspired by the loss of Bryant.
Irving scored 17 of those points in the fourth quarter and was just three points shy of the Nets’ single-game scoring record held by Deron Williams. He’s also the first Nets player to have multiple 50-point games in a season.