Kyrie Irving credits Kobe Bryant's 'Mamba mentality' for helping him to historic 54-point explosion

Kyrie Irving has hit a championship-winning shot, scored 57 points against a defending champion and earned a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, but he will never have another game like the one he just posted in the Brooklyn Nets' 133-118 victory over the Chicago Bulls

His 54 points weren't a career-high, though he almost certainly would've gotten there had he remained in the game once the outcome was decided. What really stood out, though, was his efficiency. Irving shot 19-of-23 from the field and 7-of-9 from behind the arc. If you include free throws, he missed only five shots in a 50-point game. 

In doing so, Irving became only the third player in NBA history to make over 80 percent of his shots in a 50-point game, joining Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain (who did so four times). It's worth noting, though, that those players didn't use the 3-point line to hit their marks. By making seven of his nine attempts from behind the arc, Irving posted the highest effective field goal percentage in a 50-point game ever at 97.8 percent. 

In fact, Irving went on to register the highest true shooting percentage in NBA history, 98.5 percent, besting Dana Barros' effort from March of 1995.

After the game, Irving credited Kobe Bryant's attitude for his incredible game. 

"I hit a few shots in the first half," Irving said. "So I had to keep it going. Kobe mentality, Mamba mentality, keep going, keep going, so it felt good, felt good."

Irving and Bryant were incredibly close. When Irving won his championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, he FaceTimed Bryant from the locker room. When Bryant died on Sunday, Irving sat out that night's game for what was deemed "personal reasons." 

There isn't a player in the modern NBA whose style more closely matches Bryant's than Irving. He is a born scorer, and tonight proved it. This game will live in the history books forever as one of the most remarkable nights of offense in NBA history. 

Sam Quinn joined CBS sports as a basketball writer in 2019. Prior to that, he wrote for 247Sports and Bleacher Report. He is a New York native and NYU graduate who also has roots in Florida and California. Full Bio

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