Irving helps Celtics torch Knicks
BOSTON (AP) – Kyrie Irving scored 22 points before leaving the game in the final minutes nursing his right shoulder, Al Horford had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the Boston Celtics coasted past the New York Knicks 128-100 on Thursday night.
Jaylen Brown returned after missing three games with a bruised lower back and scored a season-high 21 points.
Jayson Tatum added 17 for Boston, which won its fourth straight game and exacted a bit of revenge for a Nov. 21 loss to the Knicks.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 22 for New York, which has lost four of its last five games. Enes Kanter had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Noah Vonleh had 12 and 10.
The Celtics scored the first three baskets of the game and never trailed. They led by eight after one, by 11 after two and by 15 points after scoring eight straight to make it 97-82 near the end of the third quarter.
Knicks: Both teams shot better than 60 percent in the first quarter, but the Knicks were just 8 for 26 in the second.
Hardaway went down to the floor after taking an elbow from Marcus Morris Sr. in the head. The play was ruled a flagrant foul.
Celtics: The Celtics wore green, white and yellow jerseys reminiscent of the 1980s, and they enhanced the theme by using graphics on the scoreboard from the time.
During breaks, they showed video of a Green Line train approaching the original Boston Garden on elevated tracks, neither of which exists anymore.
With about four minutes left in the game, Irving started rubbing his right shoulder and swinging it around while grimacing in pain. He raised his hand for coach Brad Stevens to take him out of the game but couldn’t get his attention. He walked to the bench at the next whistle.
The shoulder was wrapped in ice when he walked off the court at the end of the game.
The Celtics, who went to the Eastern Conference finals last year, were expected to be one of the league’s top teams after getting Irving and Gordon Hayward back from injuries. But the Nov. 21 loss in Boston to the Knicks was an early sign that something was wrong.
New York snapped a six-game losing streak and sent Boston to its third loss in a row. Stevens wondered aloud whether his team was “that good.”
“Maybe it’s not a wake-up call if you keep getting beat,” he said.
Boston is 5-1 since then.
Knicks: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday
Celtics: Visit the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.