NBA’s Version of March Madness Is Players Routinely Dropping 50 Points

There have already been seven 50-point games this March, tied for the most in a single month since the NBA-ABA merger

Kyrie Irving of the Nets drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic
Kyrie Irving of the Nets drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic.
Mark Brown/Getty

Suiting up in only his 19th game of the season because he isn’t eligible to play in home games in Brooklyn because of New York City’s mandate requiring vaccination against COVID-19, Kyrie Irving dropped 41 points in the first half on Tuesday night against the Magic on his way to scoring a career-high 60 at Nets rolled to a 150-108 win in Orlando.

Coming on the 15th of March, Irving’s 60-point gem was the seventh time an NBA player has gone for 50 or more points this month, equalling the number of times a player in The Association went for at least 50 in January and February combined. With more than half of the month left to go, this March is already tied for the most 50-point games in a single month since the NBA-ABA merger. To recap, the seven scoring outbursts are…

  1. March 15: Irving: 60 (20/31 FG, 8/12 3PT, 12/13 FT)
  2. March 14: Towns: 60 (19/31 FG, 7/11 3PT, 15/16 FT)
  3. March 13: Kevin Durant: 53 (19/37 FG, 4/13 3PT, 11/12 FT)
  4. March 11: LeBron James: 50 (18/25 FG, 6/9 3PT, 8/8 FT)
  5. March 8: Irving: 50 (15/19 FG, 9/12 3PT, 11/13 FT)
  6. March 6: Jayson Tatum: 54 (16/30 FG, 8/15 3PT, 14/17 FT)
  7. March 5: James: 56 (19/31 FG, 6/11 3PT, 12/13 FT)

“The night after Karl Towns had an incredible performance, and then to have Kyrie do it the next night, the league is in an amazing place right now,” Irving’s teammate Durant said. “We’re seeing a lot of talent displayed every night, and this was one of the elite ones.”

In an interesting twist, March 2019 also saw seven such games. August 2020, when the league was finishing the pandemic-altered regular season and playoffs in Florida in the bubble inside Walt Disney World, also had seven 50-point efforts.

“When you’re a kid, scoring a bunch of points, it means something,” Irving said after his scoring outburst. “But when you’re in the best league in the world, doing it against the greatest athletes that are playing our game, it means a little bit more.”

For the Nets, who are desperate for wins as they try to ascend in the standings in the East, it may mean the difference between having to take part in the play-in round in the postseason or not. Had Irving gotten vaccinated and been able to play in more than 19 games this season, that might not be the case. At least he’s doing his part when he can.

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