Kyrie Irving tied a season high with 40 points and the Brooklyn Nets overcame a sluggish start to beat the Boston Celtics 121-109 on Thursday night in New York.
The Nets won their third straight and prevailed for the 11th time in 12 games. The latest victory came in front of 1,374 fans on the one-year anniversary of the NBA shutting down for four-plus months following a positive COVID-19 test for Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
Irving shot 15 of 23 from the floor and hit two clutch 3-pointers in the final 3:14. His uncontested trey from the left side with 2:04 remaining gave the Nets a 116-109 left after Joe Harris stole the ball from Jayson Tatum.
Irving reached 40 points by sinking two free throws with 1:42 left to make it 118-109. It was his fifth 40-point game as Net, and he added eight rebounds and three assists.
James Harden added 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists rebounds for the Nets, who shot 47.7 percent from the floor and hit 19 3-pointers. Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant missed his 10th straight game with a hamstring injury, and newly acquired Blake Griffin sat out.
Tatum scored 31 points but Boston saw its four-game winning streak end. Marcus Smart added 19 after missing the previous 18 games due to a calf injury, and Daniel Theis contributed 17 and eight rebounds.
While Tatum shot 13 of 22 from the field, teammate Jaylen Brown endured a difficult night, getting held to 13 points on 5-of-23 shooting.
Kemba Walker scored nine points as the Celtics built a 29-23 lead through the opening quarter. Irving scored 12 points in the second, and the Nets held a 58-55 lead by halftime after Harris hit a layup in the final seconds.
Boston scored the first nine points of the third and took a 64-58 lead on Brown’s 3-pointer with 9:33 left. The Celtics held an 80-77 lead after Smart’s 3-pointer with 3:02 remaining, but the Nets carried an 88-86 edge into the fourth.
Irving was on the bench when the Nets began a 12-4 spurt over the first 3:04 to take a 100-90 lead on a 3-pointer by Jeff Green. Boston clawed back and was within 108-106 on Tatum’s reverse layup with 4:17 remaining before Irving took over for the final time.
–Field Level Media
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