Photo: Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs on March 12, 2015 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
So it was Kyrie Irving’s night.
Irving outshone everyone, including teammate LeBron James, as the Cleveland Cavaliers edged the San Antonio Spurs, the defending champions, in a pulsating, heart-pounding 128-125 overtime victory Friday.
It was a night to remember for Irving as his 57 points eclipsed his previous career-high 55, which he recorded in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers late January. It then stood as the highest scoring effort this 2014-15 NBA season.
Until he decided to erase it himself.
Let’s put Irving’s spectacular performance in perspective.
The 57 points shattered the old franchise record of 56 points set against the Toronto Raptors on March 20, 2005 by James.
Irving’s second 50-plus game is the most this season. The only other players to reach that plateau this year were the Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and Mo Williams when he was still with the Minnesota Timberwolves before he was shipped to the Charlotte Hornets.
He thus became the first player to score 55 points or more more than once in the same season since Kobe Bryant, who did the trick thrice eight seasons ago.
I’m not yet finished.
The only other players who scored at least 55 points more than once in the same season since 15 years ago were Kobe and Michael Jordan.
Photo: Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers takes a shot against the San Antonio Spurs on March 12, 2015 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Interestingly, Irving’s explosion was not only the most by any player this season but also the most by a teammate of LeBron, counting his former Miami Heat colleagues, and the most scored against the Spurs in a long while.
So yes, Irving’s emergence should make LeBron happy knowing he has someone else, not just himself, to rely on come big games.
But will it hang?
No Kobe. No Carmelo Anthony. No more Amar’e Stoudemire. No stars. Both out of playoff contention. If not for Jeremy Lin and Fil-Am Jordan Clarkson, it would be hard for the Lakers to keep up. Still, New York won, 101-94.
Postscript: Here’s my Top 10 players for this week: 1. Anthony Davis, 2. Stephen Curry, 3. Russell Westbrook, 4. Chris Paul, 5. James Harden, 6. Kawhi Leonard, 7. Klay Thompson, 8. Kyrie Irving, 9. Damian Lillard and 10. Pau Gasol.
Joey Villar is a columnist for NBA.com Philippines. The views expressed in this article are personal and do not reflect those of the NBA.