Kyrie Irving Lifts Nets Over Celtics

The Brooklyn Nets (25-13) extended their win streak to three games, effectively snapping the Boston Celtics’ (19-18) four-game win streak following a 121-109 on Thursday night at Barclays Center.

Kyrie Irving had the hot hand against his former team, leading all scorers with 40 points.

Kemba Walker scored nine quick points in the first quarter to put the Celtics up 17-8. But Landry Shamet came off the bench hot for Brooklyn, converting on two-straight three-pointers to put the Nets within three. The Celtics held a 29-23 advantage over the Nets heading into the second stanza.

A few defensive stops by Boston helped them maintain a six-point lead minutes into the second until Jeff Green hit a trey off a James Harden assist to pull within three. The teams exchange two-point baskets and then three-pointers, with Jayson Tatum and Harden both connecting from deep.

After a dunk by Tristan Thompson, it was Shamet who again converted from down-town and an Irving pullup jump shot tied the game at 38 apiece. A Harden free throw would give the Nets its first lead since they were up 4-2 in the opening minutes of the game. Brooklyn took a 58-55 lead into halftime.

But Boston came out of the break energized and quickly retook the lead after Tatum made a jumper, Daniel Theis tipped in a shot, Tatum connected on another two-pointer, and Jaylen Brown made a three-pointer. The Celtics held a 64-58 lead and forced the Nets to call a timeout.

The Nets worked back from the deficit and a Joe Harris three-point jumper tied the game at 74 apiece. Irving then hit an 11-footer to put the Nets back up with 4:04 left in the third.

Brooklyn was up by as many as five points in the quarter and held an 88-86 advantage over Boston going into the final frame.

The Celtics would never retake the lead. A 10-4 run put the Nets up 100-90 with less than nine minutes to go. Tatum connected on a two-point shot to pull the Celtics within two points after Boston went on a 5-0 run. But Irving hit two three-pointers and made two free throws to create separation.

Both teams shot well from the field, with the Nets (47.7%) slightly edging the Celtics (45.1%). It was from beyond the arc where the Brooklyn really excelled, connecting on 45.2% of threes compared to 32.5% for Boston.

Bench production was once again weak for the Celtics, who only had 29 from substitutes — 19 from Marcus Smart who returned to action for the first time since January after tearing his calf. Tatum led the way for the Celtics with 31 points and eight rebounds, while Theis added 17 points, Brown had 13, and Walker had 11 — only two in the second half.

Harden neared a triple-double for the Nets with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists, along with seven turnovers, a game high. Shamet off the bench made six three-pointers for 18 points. The bench outscored Boston’s 39-29.

Brooklyn remains a half a game behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They look to extend their win streak to four game when they take on the Detroit Pistons (10-27) at home on Saturday night.

The Celtics, who sit at No. 4 in the Eastern Conference, will look to bounce back against the struggling Houston Rockets (11-24) on Sunday night.

(Photo: AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

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