Celtics win 13th straight, top Nets

New York Daily News - - SPORTS - CELTICS NETS 109 102

Kyrie Irv­ing re­ally dis­likes hav­ing to play in a mask. On the other hand, he loves what comes next: Bos­ton putting its 13-game win­ning streak on the line against the NBA cham­pi­ons.

“It’s def­i­nitely an in­cred­i­ble streak we’re on, and now comes the whole me­dia frenzy of will the streak end, and what’s go­ing to hap­pen on Thurs­day and the Golden State War­riors com­ing to Bos­ton,” Irv­ing said. “So I’m look­ing for­ward to all that hoopla.”

Irv­ing re­turned to the lineup and scored 25 points while wear­ing the mask, and the Celtics beat the Nets 109-102 on Tues­day night in Brook­lyn to re­main un­beaten since an 0-2 start.

Mar­cus Morris added 21 points and 10 re­bounds, and Jayson Ta­tum scored 19 points for the Celtics, who have the NBA’s best record. Golden State is next at 11-3, and Bos­ton got good prepa­ra­tion for the game against a per­sis­tent Brook­lyn team.

“The way that they con­verted on us in tran­si­tion af­ter our mis­takes tonight, you can’t have that against Golden State. You just get blown out of the gym,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “We just have to play re­ally solid on both ends and do what we do as well as we can and see where we stand.”

Irv­ing missed one game with a mi­nor fa­cial frac­ture af­ter he was hit by team­mate Aron Baynes on Fri­day. He fid­dled with the mask fre­quently, but it didn’t seem to af­fect his play much. He made a jumper with 3:40 left af­ter the Nets had closed within four points and drove for an­other bas­ket about 35 sec­onds later.

“Today, just find­ing his way and do­ing what he does, mak­ing big plays for us, com­ing through and seal­ing the game,” said Celtics cen­ter Al Hor­ford, who had 17 points and 11 re­bounds.

Bos­ton then fi­nally put it away with Jaylen Brown’s al­ley-oop feed to Ta­tum be­fore Irv­ing hit two free throws to make it 106-96. Joe Har­ris scored 19 points and Ron­dae Hol­lis-Jef­fer­son had 16 points and nine re­bounds for the Nets, who are with­out lead­ing scorer D’An­gelo Rus­sell be­cause of a bruised left knee. Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert added 15 points apiece.

Irv­ing has had to play in a mask be­fore, and he’s done it well. He scored a then ca­reer-high 41 points in a loss against the Knicks on Dec. 15, 2012, while with Cleve­land. But he de­scribed it like hav­ing foggy blinders, re­strict­ing his pe­riph­eral vi­sion.

The Celtics started 7 of 9 from the field to lead 17-4, but the Nets jumped ahead in the sec­ond quar­ter and coun­tered ev­ery time Bos­ton threated to pull away un­til the fi­nal min­utes. “I thought guys com­peted,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We just have to do it in long stretches.”

NOTES: It was the Nets’ first home game in Novem­ber, hav­ing been on the road out West all month. Brook­lyn plays just four home games in Novem­ber. Three are this week, and the Nets host Port­land on Nov. 24 be­fore go­ing back on the road for three straight games. — AP


NFL STANDINGS Kyrie Irv­ing wears mask to pro­tect fa­cial frac­ture and still scores 25 points as Celtics top Nets in Brook­lyn.

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