BROOKLYN – There are some nights when a superstar shows off all their talent over the course of 48 minutes and there is little for an opponent to do to try and stop it.
Jim Boylen had that helpless feeling on Friday night at the Barclays Center, when he’d find no way to contain the Nets’ top player, and Kyrie Irving never let the Bulls get a breath.
The guard hit his first ten shots of the game and kept the pace up through the fourth quarter, scoring 54 points in a 133-118 blowout of the Bulls in Brooklyn. It’s the most a single player has scored against the team this season and the most points an opponent overall has gotten against the Bulls, topping the 126 the Hornets scored on opening night in Charlotte on October 23rd.
Irving, naturally, was the main reason as he shot 19-of-23 from the floor including 7-of-9 three-pointers and 9-of-10 free throw attempts. It fell short of his career-high of 57 points that he got against the Spurs as a member of the Cavaliers on March 12,2015, but it was plenty to send the Bulls to their 32nd loss of the season.
On top of that, the Bulls lost guard Kris Dunn in the first 15 seconds of the game after his left knee was hit by falling teammate Thaddeus Young. He would limp off the floor and not return, and according to Boylen will fly back to Chicago to meet with team doctors and not accompany the team to Toronto for their game on Sunday.
Dunn would have provided some more defensive help, but it may have been futile against Irving in one of the best nights of his decorated career. He hit all ten shots he took from the floor in the first half, including a memorable sequence in the final five second of the second quarter, when he got a layup on a steal, then stole the ball from Tomas Satoransky and hit a three-pointer as time expired.
Irving would go onto hit 9-of-13 shots in the second half and remained in the game late into the fourth quarter in hopes of besting his career-high but was finally pulled with 2:46 to go in the game. In the midst of second half, the Bulls would actually piece together a late third quarter run to get the lead down to seven, but the lead went back up once Kyrie got going again.
There was nothing the visitors could have done to stop him Friday night. Superstars just do that sometimes, and that’s exactly what Irving did for a few hours.