Irving’s magic helps Celtics push win streak to 16
DALLAS — The Boston Celtics have been comeback specialists during their win streak and their magic, led by Kyrie Irving’s season-high 47 points, continued Monday night.
The Celtics needed another fourth-quarter rally and, for the first time this season, overtime to finally get past the Dallas Mavericks 110-102 and push their win streak to 16 in a row.
The Celtics (16-2) have now tied for the franchise’s fourth-longest win streak. They can tie for the third longest when they go for 17 in a row Wednesday at Miami.
A magician on the floor, Irving scored 23 points in the first half and 10 in overtime coming after Dallas (3-15) quickly pulled ahead in OT, 100-96 lead.
The Celtics played sluggishly on the offensive end and fell behind 87-74 with 7:47 left in regulation, but anyone who has watched Boston build its improbable win streak knew they assuredly had one last run.
A clampdown on defense led to a 17-5 run to get within 92-91, but the Celtics still needed a 5-0 finish to get to overtime.
Tied at 96 with 61 seconds left, Mavs forward Harrison Barnes, who had a big game with 31 points, missed a step-back jumper for the lead, and Irving misfired on a 3-pointer.
“Last few games, we have been down quite a few so it is just about battling back,” Irving said. “Teams get in a comfortable rhythm, whether it be in the first half or the second half, this is a group that continues to stick together through anything and everything.”
Dallas was shooting for consecutive wins for the first time this season, but instead it was the Celtics who figured out how not to lose for the first time since Oct. 18. Celtics coach Brad Stevens downplayed the longevity of the streak.
“We’re just trying to prepare well for the next game,” Stevens said. “And that’s all we’ve done, (and) that’s all we’ll continue to do. The streak doesn’t mean anything to me. Maybe it does to the guys in the room. But it’s about finding ways to get better, and finding ways to get the job done.”
Barnes said he felt like he got off a good shoot for a chance at the lead.
“I felt good about it, but, before that and going into overtime, I personally have to make better decisions,” Barnes said. “I had a few key turnovers there, a few difficult shots. I thought we fought hard and put ourselves in position to win. As a closer I’ve got to be better.”
Irving put up the fourth-highest scoring game of his career and was remarkably efficient doing it. He finished 16 of 22 from the floor, 5 of 7 from beyond the arc and 10 of 11 from the free throw line. Afterward, the first-year Celtic said the team effort got them over the top.
Irving got needed help from Jaylen Brown with 22 points and nine rebounds, Jayson Tatum with 15 points and Marcus Smart, who was just 2 of 11 on 3-pointers but hit some crucial baskets late to finish with 12 points.
Dallas got 18 points from Wesley Matthews, 16 from J.J. Barea, and Dirk Nowitzki posted his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Coach Rick Carlisle though knew his team gave away a game it had in hand.
“I haven’t watched it yet so I can tell you exactly what happened yet,” Carlisle said of the OT. “But we had a couple of misses, we had a couple of turnovers and they converted in transition a couple of times. Then we got into the foul mode where we had to foul. It is a very tough loss, no question about that.”
NOTES: G Kyrie Irving said coming to the Celtics has probably “exceeded” what he expected about joining a new team. ... During its 16-game win streak, Boston has trailed in the fourth quarter in seven of its last 10 games. ... Mavs G J.J. Barea, a native of Puerto Rico, won the October NBA Cares Community Assist Award for of his continuous relief efforts in his home country after devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. ... F Dirk Nowitzki, playing in his 20th and perhaps final NBA season, has averaged 25.8 ppg in 34 career games against the Celtics, his highest career scoring average against any team.