NBA: Kyrie Irving relishes taking centre stage in Boston

The Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving getting past Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder at the Philips Arena on Monday. The All-Star guard has been on fire of late, helping the Celtics to a nine-game winning streak while averaging 22.3 points, 5.7 assists
The Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving getting past Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder at the Philips Arena on Monday. The All-Star guard has been on fire of late, helping the Celtics to a nine-game winning streak while averaging 22.3 points, 5.7 assists and an NBA-best 2.2 steals per game.PHOTO: REUTERS

Celtics on a roll with their 9th win in a row & their summer deal has been at the heart of it

ATLANTA (Georgia) • With the Boston Celtics' National Basketball Association (NBA) winning streak in jeopardy, Kyrie Irving took charge against Atlanta on Monday.

He scored 12 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and the Celtics won their ninth game in a row after two opening losses, defeating the Hawks 110-107.

"He made huge plays down the stretch," coach Brad Stevens said of the All-Star guard. "I thought he not only made the plays but he made a lot of right reads too."

Irving, acquired by Boston from the Cleveland Cavaliers before the season, made four three-pointers, shot 14-of-22 overall and dished out seven assists in his best game with the Celtics.

He was coming off an 11-point outing in a Sunday win at Orlando.

"When you're coaching against people, I always look at the box score for the game before," Stevens said.

"If they really struggled but they're really good, that's just scary stuff. Guys like that don't have quiet nights twice in a row."

GLAD TO HAVE HIM ON OUR SIDE

It's exciting to be out there on his side, watching him do all those incredible things. He's a great player.

JAYSON TATUM, Boston Celtics forward, on Kyrie Irving making all the difference to their offensive play since his August trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving is averaging 22.3 points, 5.7 assists and an NBA-best 2.2 steals per game.

"It's exciting to be out there on his side, watching him do all those incredible things," said Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum, who had an impressive game himself.

"He's a great player."

Tatum scored 21 points, including a big late three-pointer, and grabbed eight rebounds.

Former Atlanta forward Al Horford had 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

The Celtics won despite 13-of-26 three-point shooting by the Hawks.

Boston had not allowed more than 94 points in any of the previous games during their winning streak.

Dennis Schroder scored 23 points for the Hawks (2-9). Dewayne Dedmon and Marco Belinelli each added 19 points.

The Celtics led by 10 points early in the fourth quarter but the Hawks battled back to take a 96-95 lead with about five minutes left.

Boston needed a three-pointer from Irving with 1min 37sec remaining to finally subdue the Hawks, giving the Celtics a 104-103 lead.

It was the final twist of a game that saw no fewer than 25 lead changes.

"We had to get our act together," Irving said, after breaking the 30-point barrier for the first time in a Celtics jersey.

"You could just tell that mentally and physically, we were dragging a little bit."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2017, with the headline 'Irving relishes taking centre stage in Boston'. Print Edition | Subscribe