History in the Making: How Good was Kyrie Irving's Performance Against the Spurs Last Night?
Last night's tilt between the Spurs and Cavaliers was an instant classic -- back-and-forth and exciting for all.
There were some great statistical lines from the contest. LeBron James was business as usual, shooting 50% from the field for 31 points while pulling down 7 rebounds and throwing out 5 dimes. "Guarding" him was Kawhi Leonard, who wasn't a slouch either, shooting 64.2% for 24 points while adding 9 rebounds and 7 assists and wasn't afraid to take him one-on-one, either.
But the best stat line of the night came from James' sidekick, Kyrie Irving. His line last night was silly: 57 points, 7-7 3-point field goals, 10-10 free throws, 5 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds. Oh, and this three-pointer that sent the game into overtime.
And this wasn't the first time this season Irving has put up 50 or more points in a game -- he put up 55 against the Blazers in late January, going 10-10 from the free throw line then as well. However, this was the first time that a Gregg Popovich-coached team has ever given up a 50-point performance to a player, and the Spurs have never let a player score 50 or more points on them during a home game.
Before we get into where his stat line stands in history, let's examine Irving's shot chart, where he was effective from all over the court.
As we see from his shot chart, Irving spent a lot of time driving to the rim, taking 20 of his shots from close range and making over half of them, shooting much better than the league average. Even more impressive are his three-pointers as they all came from different areas on the court.
Very few performances have been as spectacular as Irving's. No player has gone perfect in three-point attempts as well as from the charity stripe in one game. Two guys have come close: Kobe Bryant and Ben Gordon. Gordon is the only other player who was perfect from downtown with at least seven attempts in a game, although he only scored 45 points while going 10-11 from the free throw line.
Bryant is the only player to have more points (81 and 65) than Kyrie when making at least seven three-pointers, but missed six in one game and four in another. Bryant did well from the free throw line, though it wasn't perfect -- he was 18 of 20 in his 81-point masterpiece, and 11 of 12 in his 65-point performance.
It's always nice when you can say you outperformed one of the best, but the accolades don't stop there. Irving's game was a career high in points and the highest scoring game for a Cavalier. Kyrie Irving also has the distinction of scoring the most points ever by a teammate of LeBron James. The Cavaliers' offense is hitting on all cylinders right now and Irving is a big reason why.