Masked-man Irving leads Celtics to 13th straight win

AFP
Irving, who joined the Celtics in an offseason trade with the Cleveland, wore a mask for 19 games with the Cavaliers in the 2012-13 NBA season.
AFP
Reuters

Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving (left) drives against Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie during the third quarter of their NBA game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on November 14, 2017. The Celtics won 109-102 for their 13th straight victory.

Masked-man Kyrie Irving scored 25 points to lead the Boston Celtics to their 13th consecutive victory on Tuesday with a 109-102 triumph at Brooklyn.

The Celtics, whose 13-2 record is the National Basketball Association's best, are on their longest win streak since winning 14 in a row in November and December of 2010, with the team record of 19 consecutive wins coming in November and December of 2008.

Irving suffered a facial fracture on Friday in Boston's 90-87 victory over Charlotte when Australian teammate Aron Baynes elbowed him accidentally. That forced the 25-year-old guard to miss Sunday's 95-94 victory over Toronto.

A plastic protective mask allowed Irving onto the court against the Nets and he responded by hitting 8-of-20 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line as all five Boston starters scored in double figures

"It's a piece of plastic on your face," Irving said. "It's the difference in having something over your face. It's almost like having somewhat foggy blinders on.

"When I take off the mask, I can see everything. When I have the mask on, I'm really dialed into what's in front of me, my peripherals are a little cut off, but it's just something you get you used to."

Irving, who joined the Celtics in an offseason trade with Cleveland, wore a mask for 19 games with the Cavaliers in the 2012-13 season.

"Just wearing a mask for precautionary reasons," Irving said. "Hopefully, it'll get better in the next few weeks."

When Tuesday's game was over, Irving pulled the mask of his face and saluted Boston fans who were chanting "M-V-P, M-V-P," — for Most Valuable Player — at him.

"I don't worry about him getting a rhythm too much," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "He'll find that and obviously he made huge plays late in the game again."

Marcus Morris added 21 points and 10 rebounds while Al Horford contributed 17 points and 11 rebounds for Boston and called Irving's return "great" for the Celtics.

"Just finding his way and doing what he does, making big plays for us, coming through and sealing the game," Horford said.

The Celtics have not lost since dropping their home opener to Milwaukee on October 18, a night after Gordon Hayward was lost for the season with a horrendous knee injury in an opening-night loss at Cleveland.

Reuters

San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge dunks the ball as Dallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr (left) and center Salah Mejri (second left) and guard Yogi Ferrell (right) look on during the second half of their NBA game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on November 14, 2017. The Spurs won 97-91.

In Dallas, LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 32 points in his hometown and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Mavericks.

Gregg Popovich became the fastest NBA coach to 500 road wins. He got there in 835 away games, 41 fewer than Pat Riley.

Aldridge, a product of Dallas' Seagoville High School, scored 8 points during a decisive stretch of the fourth quarter. Patty Mills added a season-high 19 points for the Spurs (9-5), still playing without star French guard Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard.

Rookie Dennis Smith Jr led Dallas with a career-high 27 points, and JJ Barea and Harrison Barnes had 16 each. The Mavericks are 2-13 for the second straight season and fifth time overall.

In Houston, Toronto's DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points to lead six Raptors in double figures as the Canadian club downed the Rockets 129-113, snapping Houston's six-game win streak.

Kyle Lowry and CJ Miles scored 19 points each for Toronto, Miles coming off the bench to sink 6-of-9 shots from 3-point range.

James Harden led Houston (11-4) with 38 points and 11 assists, going 19-of-19 from the free throw line.


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