EditorsNote: fixing last name of Trevin Steede in 13th graph
Celtics top Warriors for 14th straight win
BOSTON — A media type suggested to Steph Curry that Golden State will be returning to 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 Thursday night.
“They’re playing the best right now in the East. Obviously, until they beat Cleveland, they’ve done it three years in a row, we’ll see.”
He then added, “I hear the weather’s great here in June so we’ll see.”
Kyrie Irving shed his protective facemask 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 other win came against the Hawks on Feb. 11, 2015. They shot 32.3 percent.
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.
An emotional Brown said after the game he was not going to play up until two or three hours prior to game time and his coach, Brad Stevens, “was perfectly OK with that.” But a call from Trevin Steede’s mom told Brown to go ahead and play.
“I feel like he was with me,” Brown said. “I felt like it was me and him (on the court).”
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.
“He was special tonight,” said Stevens. “He was really good ... he played really inspired.”
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.”
Boston called timeout with 20.2 seconds left — seven seconds on the shot clock. Irving got the ball and went 1-on-1 against Draymond Green, driving past the defender and drawing a foul. With chants of “M-V-P” ringing throughout the building, he calmly made the free throws.
“I just watched the tape. There was no foul,” said Kerr. “Tough call.”
Al Horford had 18 points and 11 boards, Irving finished with 16 points and Tatum and Marcus Morris both had 12.
Durant led the visitors with 24 points, but their guard combination of Curry and Klay Thompson combined to shoot 8-for-32 from the floor, 5-for-20 from 3-point range. Thompson had 13 points and Curry, playing with a bruised thigh (he missed Monday’s game) had nine points, six rebounds and five assists. He battled foul trouble on a foul-filled night for his team.
NOTES: Boston F Gordon Hayward, out for the season after ankle/leg surgery, was at his first game and was seated behind the bench. ... According to Celtics radio voice Sean Grande, via Twitter, “On February 7, 2015, the Warriors (39-9) lost in Atlanta (42-9) ... it’s the only time in the last four years Golden State has faced someone with a better record (after the first 10 games). ... until tonight.” ... Warriors coach Steve Kerr, tongue planted firmly in cheek, before the game: “Huge game. The fate of the universe rests upon the results of tonight’s Celtics-Warriors matchup.” ... The Warriors continue their four-game road trip at Philadelphia Saturday night, while the Celtics open a three-game road trip at Atlanta Saturday.