The Celtics remained unbeaten since an 0-2 start heading into their showdown Thursday in Boston against the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Irving missed one game with a minor facial fracture after he was hit by teammate Aron Baynes on Friday. He fiddled with the mask frequently, but it didn’t seem to affect his play much. He made a jumper with 3:40 left after the Nets had closed within four points and drove for another basket about 35 seconds later.
Boston then finally put it away with Jaylen Brown’s alley-oop feed to Tatum before Irving hit two free throws to make it 106-96.
Joe Harris scored 19 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Nets, who are without leading scorer D’Angelo Russell because of a bruised left knee. Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert added 15 points apiece (see full recap).
Raptors ride huge early lead to win over Rockets
HOUSTON — DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points and the Toronto Raptors built a big lead in the first half and held on for a 129-113 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.
James Harden had 38 points and made 19 of 19 foul shots for the Rockets, who ended a six-game winning streak.
Houston scored six straight points, including three free throws from Harden, to make it 108-103 with about 7 1/2 minutes left.
Delon Wright made a free throw for the Raptors soon after that, and OG Anunoby connected for Toronto’s first field goal in more than three minutes on a 3-pointer with 6:25 remaining. After Wright’s layup, Kyle Lowry stole the ball from Harden, and DeRozan finished on the other end with a dunk to make it 116-103.
Harden got Houston going again with a four-point play. The free throw was his 19th, setting a franchise record for most foul shots without a miss in a game.
DeRozan and Serge Ibaka had back-to-back dunks after Harden’s big play to make it 120-107 with about three minutes left and send many of the home fans toward the exits.
Harden had 11 assists and six rebounds. He has scored at least 20 points and had seven or more assists in every game this season (see full recap).
Spurs beat Mavs to give Popovich milestone victory
DALLAS — LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 32 points in his hometown and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Dallas Mavericks 97-91 on Tuesday night.
Gregg Popovich became the fastest NBA coach to 500 road wins. He got there in 835 away games, 41 fewer than Pat Riley.
Aldridge, a product of Dallas’ Seagoville High School, scored eight points during a decisive stretch of the fourth quarter. Patty Mills added a season-high 19 points for the Spurs.
Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. led Dallas with a career-high 27 points, and J.J. Barea and Harrison Barnes had 16 each. The Mavericks are 2-13 for the second straight season and fifth time overall.
Just like in a loss to Cleveland on Saturday, the Mavericks cut a double-digit second-half deficit to one point, but couldn’t gain the lead.
After Dallas got within 62-61 early in the fourth, Mills hit a long 3 and a driving layup, then Aldridge scored eight of his team’s next 13 points to put the Spurs up 82-71 with 5:03 to play. Dallas never got closer than four points down the stretch (see full recap).