By Agence France-Presse
Kyrie Irving channeled his inner “Mamba mentality” by torching Chicago for 54 points on Friday as the Brooklyn Nets crushed the Bulls 133-118 at Barclays Center.
Irving’s electrifying performance saw him shoot 19 of 23 from the field as he made his first 10 shots of the game before finishing it off with a dominating stretch in the fourth.
“I hit a few shots in first half, so I just kept it going,” Irving said. “The Kobe mentality, and Mamba mentality, keep going, keep going. It felt good.”
Irving also tied a season-high by making seven three-pointers on nine attempts for the Nets, who beat Chicago for the ninth time in the last 11 meetings.
“I am just happy to be back playing the game I love. The most beautiful sound is just hearing these fans and having my family here,” he said.
Irving produced his second 50-point game this season and fourth of his career.
He reached 50 points with a three-pointer that pushed the lead to 123-106 with 5:33 remaining. He closed out his night with 2:43 remaining to a standing ovation.
It was the third-highest point total for Irving, and the eighth 50-point game in Nets’ history. His career high was 57 points in 2015 with Cleveland.
The Nets led 107-99 when Irving came back into the game with 9:14 left in the fourth quarter.
He scored 10 straight Brooklyn points to expand the lead to 117-103 with 7:43 to go.
Elsewhere, Nikola Jokic flirted with a triple double and Will Barton scored 24 points as the Denver Nuggets snapped the Milwaukee Bucks nine-game win streak with a 127-115 victory.
Jokic finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Nuggets, who spread the scoring around as all nine players who got into the contest scored in double figures.
Michael Porter had 15 points and 11 rebounds before leaving in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
Malik Beasley added 16 points and Monte Morris had 14 for Denver, who made a season-best 22 three-pointers but missed another 24.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, Khris Middleton added 24 points and Eric Bledsoe scored 15 in the loss.
Also, Pascal Siakam had 30 points, and the visiting Toronto Raptors stretched their winning streak to 10 games by cruising past the struggling Detroit Pistons 105-92.
Serge Ibaka scored 21 points, and Fred VanVleet tallied 16 points, eight rebounds and nine assists for the Raptors, who made 51 percent of their shot attempts.
Norman Powell led Toronto’s reserves with 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals, and Chris Boucher chipped in eight points, seven rebounds in the win.
Toronto center Marc Gasol missed the game with a hamstring injury.
Also, Nick Nurse led the Toronto Raptors to the NBA title in his first season as an NBA coach and now, in his second season, he’ll be coaching one of the teams in the All-Star Game on February 16.
The Raptors’ win assured them of the best record in the Eastern Conference among teams whose coaches are eligible to get the honor, giving the coaching nod to Nurse. He will coach Team Giannis.