Celtics guard Kyrie Irving had a big game with 26 points, 10 assists and seven steals in a 107-99 victory against the Miami Heat.
BOSTON – Ever since Kyrie Irving took a seat for one night in Brooklyn he has been on a run that rivals anything he’s done in two seasons with the Celtics.
The five-time All-Star returned to the floor with 27 points and a career-high 18 assists last Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors, scored 38 points with 11 assists in Friday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, and struck for 32 points in the comeback victory Saturday night in Atlanta against Hawks, before doing it again Monday night back at TD Garden with 26 points, 10 assists and seven steals in a 107-99 victory against the Miami Heat.
A 22-point lead was down to five when Irving drove for two out of a timeout for a 101-94 lead with 4:10 to play. Irving got inside for two more to stretch the gap to nine at the 3:46 mark before a Bam Adebayo free throw with 2:51 left.
Then it was Irving once again for a 105-95 game when Adebayo’s free throws had it an eight-point gap with 2:21 remaining. Two more Adebayo free throws made it a two-possession game with 1:35 to play, but the Heat missed a chance to cut it to three, and Marcus Morris came up with a steal with 47.2 seconds on the clock.
Morris hit two free throws for a 107-99 lead, grabbed the rebound of a Dion Waiters miss, and the Celtics ran down the clock on their fourth straight victory.
Jayson Tatum scored 19 points, Al Horford had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Morris scored 17 points for the Celtics.
The Heat only got 35 points from their starters combined, but received 18 apiece from both Derrick Jones and Waiters off the bench.
A 37-point third quarter helped the Celtics turn a tie game at the half into an 87-68 lead to begin the fourth quarter.
Gordon Hayward’s 3-pointer stretched the lead to a game-high 22 points in the opening seconds, but the Celtics could not sustain the momentum with the bench unit as the Heat used a 9-0 run to climb within 92-79 with 8:40 left on the clock.
Jaylen Brown drove for two out of the timeout and Aron Baynes hit a long jumper for a 96-81 lead with 7:24 to play. A Semi Ojeleye 3-pointer had Boston up 16 with 6:46 to play, but the Heat answered with four in a row, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens summoned Irving back to the floor with 6:13 on the clock.
Jones hit a corner 3-pointer for a nine-point game, and Justise Winslow cut the gap to 99-92 with a pair of free throws with 5:07 left, prompting the rest of the starters to return to the floor alongside Irving.
When Waiters knocked down a jumper over Horford the Heat had cut a 22-point deficit to five with 4:29 on the clock.
The frigid weather outside appeared to have a chilling effect on both teams with the early start inside as they combined for 21 turnovers in the first half before heading to the locker rooms tied at 50-50.
Boston jumped out to a 12-2 lead, and was up as many as 12 late in the first quarter, but the Heat opened the second quarter on a 16-6 run to get even and it was a never more than a one-possession game into the break from there.
The Celtics started the third quarter quickly with a Marcus Smart 3-pointer capping a 9-0 run over the first 1:52. Boston then held the Heat to just six points over the first six minutes of the second half with Tatum’s basket making it a 67-56 lead into the second Erik Spoelstra timeout of the quarter.
All three timeouts the Heat coach took in the quarter proved ineffective as the Celtics made it a 25-10 run to start the third quarter with Tatum’s 3-pointer stretching the lead to 75-60, a Morris 3-pointer from Irving pushing the gap to 82-63, and Terry Rozier’s corner 3-pointer from Horford extending the lead to 21 before the Celtics hit the fourth up 87-68.
Scott Souza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Scott_Souza.