Irving drops 47 as Celtics survive the Mavericks in overtime, 110-102
The Boston Celtics squared off against the 3-14 Dallas Mavericks on the road in search of their 16th straight victory, and it certainly wasn't easy. The Mavs had authority through much of the second half, before Kyrie Irving (47pts, 6ast) and company powered back to force overtime, where they eventually held on for the 110-102 victory.
The first quarter was all about Boston's backcourt. Irving (17 points, 6-6 shooting) and Jaylen Brown (12 points, 5-6 shooting) outscored the Mavericks alone, 30-22. They simply couldn't miss (well, once), and maneuvered through the Dallas defense with ease to convert on 11 of their 12 combined shots.
Kyrie was perfect from the field, connecting on all six of his shots - three of which from downtown. His dribble pull-up was working to perfection, like in this play:
When Kyrie is feeling it like this, it doesn't take much offense to get buckets. Just give him the ball and let him go to work.
The other half of the backcourt, Brown, was on fire out of the gates too. He knocked down two three-pointers of his own and finished every opportunity that he had at the rim to rack up 12 points. This was far too much for Dallas, and the Celts took a 12-point lead into the second quarter after scoring their most points in a quarter this season:
#Celtics lead #Mavericks 34-22 after 1Q. Irving's last shot ruled a 3. Irving 18 points, Brown 12.
Naturally, Boston's shooting cooled off in the second. That tends to happen when you replace Kyrie with Marcus Smart. With the starting backcourt finally getting rest, the Mavericks took advantage. They tempted Smart to shoot, knowing that he would, and it paid off for them. Smart chucked up five shots from behind the arc, missing each, and shot 1-7 overall in the quarter. It wasn't just Smart, though. Boston's bench as a whole continued to be ice cold from the field and provided very little help for the starters.
The second unit's struggles allowed the Mavs to go on an 18-7 run and shrink Boston's lead down to four. Even once the starters return, it was too late. Dallas remained hot from the floor, and, despite Kyrie picking up right where he left off, the Mavs matched each bucket with one of their own. In particular, Harrison Barnes carried the scoring load with his 13 first-half points.
Surprisingly, Al Horford only took one shot in the first half - a three-pointer that he made. Luckily, Irving's shooting was all Boston really needed. His 25 points were the most he's had in a half since the January of 2015 and were enough for Boston to hold onto their lead heading into the half. He would've been a perfect 9-9 from the floor if he didn't put up an off-balance pull-up jumper on the run to end the half. In fact, going back to last game against the Hawks, Kyrie scored 47 straight points without missing a single field goal (S/O to the Brett Sullivan database for this ridiculous stat).
HALFTIME: Celtics 53, Mavs 49
Kyrie Irving is on FIRE, leading all scorers with 25pts on 9-for-10 shooting. Brown: 13pts, 4reb; Tatum: 5pts, 5reb. pic.twitter.com/DaYW0IeFfP
Dirk Nowitzki put up the first four points of the second half to quickly tie the contest at 53. From there, they gained a lead and kept it through the rest of the quarter thanks to hot shooting and some sloppy play from the Celtics. Boston was up to 14 turnovers by the end of the third, which allowed Dallas to take 14 extra field-goal attempts - and boy were they taking advantage.
Dallas used their size and mismatches to get shots off over Boston defenders. Between Dirk, Barnes, and Wes Matthews, they were creating and hitting shots very effectively. Those three combined for their first 21 points in the half and 23 of their 28 third-quarter points.
The Mav's sudden outburst saw the Celtics behind eight points entering the final 12 minutes of play:
The #Celtics head into the final frame down 77-69 to the Mavs.
Irving: 30pts (10-13 shooting); Brown: 15pts (5-8 shooting).
Boston simply lacked a sense of urgency to start the final quarter. They gave up multiple offensive rebounds and missed easy shots in the opening minutes, which allowed Dallas to build an 11-point lead with nine minutes left in the game.
The Celtics went into panic mode, unsuccessfully chucking up three-pointers in attempt to close the gap. At the other end, the Mavs were zipping the ball around the court and finding some great looks to preserve their lead for the time being.
With five minutes remaining, Boston finally showed some life. Marcus Morris had an and-one tip-back shot to narrow the deficit to seven. Back-to-back defensive stops led to two Jayson Tatum buckets - the first being a layup off a sweet euro-step, and the other being an alley-oop finish. After a hectic sequence, Kyrie bailed Boston out with a three at the top of the key and then hit a tough layup on the next possession to cap off an 11-3 run to make it a 92-92 game:
With a crazy couple of series and the Celtics down five, Smart hit an absolutely huge three-pointer from 27-feet out. Then, Kyrie stripped Dirk and found Tatum on a lob to tie it yet again at 96 apiece.
The Mavs had a shot to end Boston's streak right then and there, but Tatum heavily contested Barne's fadeaway jumper to force overtime:
Dallas puts the ball in the hands of its top scorer, Harrison Barnes, for the game-winning shot. 19-year-old rookie Jayson Tatum says, "NOT ON MY WATCH!" pic.twitter.com/Jri0iw3gpR
After the Mavs scored the first four points of OT, Kyrie attacked the paint twice and tied the game. The two baskets brought his scoring total up to a season-high 41 points. The masked assassin still had unfinished business, though. Irving kept punishing Dallas in the paint, using his handles to drive to the hoop and somehow hit a pair of contested shots.
With a slight lead, the C's were finally able to lock in defensively, get some stops and boards, and sink game-clinching free-throws.
In addition to Irving's career-high 47 points, Brown finished with 22, Tatum with 15, and (somehow) Smart had 12. Despite a quiet night from Horford in which he scored just three points, he still had an impact by bringing down eight boards and dishing out seven assists. Barnes was the leading scorer for the Mavs with 31 points.
The streak lives on! The Celtics have won 16 straight, have the best record in the league, and will look to keep it going Wednesday in Miami.