In an instant the Barclays Center grew from quiet to loud. The atmosphere was dead one moment and roaring the next. "Ky-rie, Ky-rie" chants could be heard in all parts of the arena.
All it took was Kyrie Irving, who was back in the game. The crowd no longer worried about a collapse, not because the team's new superstar was putting on a show that this building rarely saw on its own.
Hours after trainer Kenny Atkinson highlighted the networks' major victories, he called it "money-time," and Irving acted with this sense of urgency. And now the nets have started, what they hope is another stretch of steady winning after a long last slide.
In one of his best performances as a network, Irving got the best result with 54 points in the season and led Atkinson's team to a double-digit victory in a row against an inferior opponent, this time a 133-119 defeat the understaffed bulls. Kobe Bryant, Irving's friend and the great all-time man who tragically died on Sunday at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash, would have been proud. Irving was the first network since the team moved to Brooklyn to score 50 points in one game more than once in a season.
Irving returned to the game with a 21-point lead over eight. That changed immediately. He drilled a pull-up jumper and scored the next nine points on the nets to get the bulls off the field. His free-throw fadeaway knight brought the Nets 3:33 left to 21. Irving was so hot that he only missed his first shot in the third quarter after starting 10v10 and 19v23 from the field had finished. He sank seven 3-pointers, scored the post, and added five assists.
"Kobe mentality, Mamba mentality, I had to keep it going," said Irving.
After losing 12 out of 14 against most elite opponents, the Nets won three out of four and were seventh ahead of Magic in the Eastern Conference. Before the game, Atkinson had hoped that his team's newly discovered health would lead to better results. You are dealing with Irving, who missed 28 games, 26 of them due to a shoulder impact. Caris LeVert was suspended for seven weeks after thumb surgery, and Wilson Chandler, who served as a reserve, served a 25-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
Even with them, others have dealt with minor injuries, which has led to cohesion problems. But Atkinson now has a full number of players and has expressed the need for them to go into gear.
"Now it's getting time for money," he said before the game.
When Irving plays like this, everyone's work becomes easier. Spencer Dinwiddie added 20 points from the bank and Taurean Prince had 16.
It was clear early on that he could feel it. In the second possession of the nets, he drilled a 3-pointer, the first of his seven Trifectas. He scored nine of the first eleven points on the networks. He finished the race with 16 points before starting at 8:57 for the first time to help the Nets build a healthy working margin. It returned in the middle of the second quarter and remained scorching hot. Irving converted a four-point game a few minutes after Dinwidde's four-point game to set up the Nets 18. Later in the verse, as the cops got closer, Irving got the crowd going.
4.9 seconds before the end, Irving landed in a fast lane. Then he took off Tomas Satoransky, reached for the ball and tore another long knight, this time from the right wing, who attempted every 10 field goals within the first 24 minutes. Irving led the Nets by 16 points and 21 points. At the beginning of the third quarter, he missed his eleventh, a hunger for the right.
However, the bulls would not go away and shot a searing 71 percent of the field in a third quarter of 39 points, making the final stanza within seven. But it wouldn't matter if Irving was back. The cops had no answer for him. Few would have been lucky that evening.