Kyrie's Big Night
*Photo via USA Today
In what was easily the best regular-season game this year, and probably the best one I’ve ever seen, Kyrie Irving led the Cleveland Cavaliers to an overtime win against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs with a performance for the record books.
Irving dropped 57 points, shooting 62.5 percent from the field, while adding five assists and four steals. He made all 10 of his free throws and all seven of his three-point attempts, including the game-tying three at the end of regulation. ESPN.com and Elias Sports Bureau compiled a list of records Irving either broke or tied, and it’s truly remarkable:
The Cavaliers franchise record for most points scored in a game, passing LeBron James’ 56.
The most points scored in a game against a defending champion since Wilt Chamberlain’s 62 against the Celtics during the 1961-62 season.
The most points scored in a game by a teammate of James.
The most points scored in a game against a Gregg Popovich-coached team.
Tied with Purvis Short for the most points scored in a game against the Spurs.
The most points scored in a road game against the Spurs.
Tied with Purvis Short for the most points in a game by a player who was perfect from behind the arc.
The first player with multiple 55-point games in a season since Kobe Bryant in 2006-07.
He is the only Cavaliers player besides James to record multiple 50-point games in a season.
He is one of three players to record multiple 50-point games before the age of 23, joining Rick Barry and James.
Unbelievable. That last one is what really gets me. His birthday is next week, making him only about three weeks older than I am. I can’t imagine what it must be like to play alongside LeBron James right now, let alone break his records.
The other record that stands out to me is the most points scored in a game by a teammate of James. Irving is definitely the only teammate James has ever had that’s even capable of having a game like that, and James was loving every minute of it. It seems as though he has taken Irving under his wing and is teaching him to be the next great Cavalier. Given the fact that James is 30 years old, Irving could very well take over the primary scoring role within the next five years.
This game had the feel of an NBA finals matchup. It’s safe to say that every time James goes up against the Spurs, no matter what team he plays for, the intensity is on another level. Kawhi Leonard was in his face all night long, and the two of them were going at each other like a couple of rams. The battle between point guards was even more exciting, however, with a healthy Tony Parker dropping 31 points of his own on 65 percent shooting.
Irving has been the catalyst to the Cavaliers’ offense this month, averaging a team-high 26.3 points per game in March on an impressive 55 percent shooting. On Sunday, he followed up his career night with 33 points in a win over the Orlando Magic, this time shooting 80 percent from the field. This is the second time this season he has scored 90 points or more in a two-game stretch. Irving has caught fire at the right time, as the Cavaliers have just 14 games left in the season and are hoping to maintain their three game lead over the Toronto Raptors for second place in the Eastern Conference.