Masked man: Irving returns as Celtics win 13th straight


It'll mark the third time in his career that Irving will be required to play with a protective mask - he did it for two extended stints during his time with the Cavs - so it's not like this is uncharted waters for the 25-year-old, even if it's not the most comfortable thing in the world.

Aware of the inevitable "media frenzy" that will come with the Celtics' winning streak as well as Thursday's showdown with the defending champion Warriors, Irving said he was "looking forward to all that hoopla".

Irving overcame his frustrations Tuesday to score a team-high 25 points on 8-of-20 shooting as the Celtics won their 13th straight game 109-102 over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

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"The way that they converted on us in transition after our mistakes tonight, you can't have that against Golden State".

"It's a piece of plastic on your face", said Irving, who also wore a mask for 19 games during the 2012-13 season with Cleveland.

Jayson Tatum started alongside Marcus Morris on Tuesday and hit 6-of-9 shots and two 3-pointers for 19 points, four rebounds, two steals and a block in 30 minutes. "We just have to play really solid on both ends and do what we do as well as we can and see where we stand".

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The Duke player-of-the-year candidate scored 37 points in a 88-81 win for No. 1 Duke over No. 2 Michigan State on Tuesday night. It has four sophomore starters, including guard Miles Bridges , the national preseason player of the year.

Irving experienced some frustrating moments with the item forced upon him after fracturing his face in a collision with teammate Aron Bayes 1:50 into Friday's win over Charlotte. He fiddled with the mask frequently, but it didn't seem to affect his play much. Golden State is next at 11-3, and Boston got good preparation for the game against a persistent Brooklyn team.

With the crowd chanting, "MVP", Irving found himself back at the line with 37.1 seconds left, hitting twice for a 106-96 lead that would finally prove to be enough.

Joe Harris scored 19 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Nets. Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert added 15 points apiece. It's nearly like having somewhat foggy blinders on.

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These Nets are a volume-shooting, pace-accelerated team under coach Kenny Atkinson. "We just have to do it in long stretches". Tatum has scored in double figures in seven of his eight November games and doesn't really look like a rookie. LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 32 points in his hometown and the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Dallas Mavericks 97-91 in Dallas.