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Celtics outlast Warriors for 14th straight win

By MIKE SHALIN
The Sports Xchange

November 17. 2017 12:57AM
Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving calls on the crowd for support as they take on the Golden State Warriors in the second quarter of Thursday night's game at TD Garden. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

A media type suggested to Steph Curry that Golden State will be returning to Boston’s TD Garden again this season.

For the NBA Finals.

“Very, very likely,” Curry, who had a dreadful shooting night, said after the Boston Celtics rallied to beat his Warriors 92-88 for their 14th straight victory on Thursday.

“They’re playing the best right now in the East.”

He then added, “I hear the weather’s great here in June so we’ll see.”

Kyrie Irving shed his protective face mask in the third quarter and then shed the world champions in the fourth, scoring 11 of his 16 points in the final 4:20 to give the Celtics their longest winning streak since 2009.

The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for the Warriors (11-4).

It was the Celtics’ second win while shooting below 33 percent since 1983-84.

The Boston trainers didn’t recommend Irving taking off the mask, which he was wearing for the second game since suffering a slight facial fracture. But off it came.

He did it in the third quarter and, soon after, the Celtics went on a 17-0 run to erase a 17-point deficit, and start a grinding war that led to the Boston win — and chants of “M-V-P” for Irving from the crowd.

He hit two free throws with 14 seconds left and then, after Kevin Durant missed a jumper, rookie Jayson Tatum nailed two more foul shots with 6.7 seconds remaining and the Warriors’ four-game TD Garden winning streak was history.

Irving gave the game ball to Jaylen Brown, who scored 22 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had two steals and two blocked shots — after learning of the death of his best friend in Atlanta the previous night.

Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston defends against Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris as Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr looks from the sideline in the second half at TD Garden. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

Brown had bursts of explosive offense, stealing the ball from Curry and flying in for a slam dunk in the first half and hitting two straight 3-pointers and scoring eight points during the 17-0 run.

Said Irving: “It’s never a good thing when someone’s going through it. You do your best to console them but at the end of the day it’s the strength within themselves and he showed a lot of that tonight. To go out there and perform the way he did, I knew exactly where the game ball was going.”

The Celtics (14-2) have overcome a 17-point and two 18-point leads during their streak. They now have a three-game road trip to try to equal the franchise’s longest winning streak.

There were many reasons for Boston not to win this game. The Celtics shot 32.9 percent from the floor, their lowest percentage during the streak. Their bench was a combined 2-for-19, with Marcus Smart going 0-for-7. Irving was 4-for-16.

But this team plays defense, all kinds of defense, and the Warriors (11-4) had two field goals in the last 4:40.

“They were just tougher and smarter,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

Said Curry: “We had control of the game despite how bad we all were shooting. We just couldn’t sustain our defense when they made a couple of runs.”


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