BOSTON • Kyrie Irving heard the "M-V-P" chants at TD Garden again on Thursday night. He should hear them for the rest of his first season in his new home.
"I say all the time how spoiled we are to coach guys at this level," Boston coach Brad Stevens said after Irving scored 36 points to lead the Boston Celtics to a 108-97 National Basketball Association (NBA) victory over the undermanned but feisty Philadelphia 76ers.
"He's certainly one of the most gifted scorers in the game and he can do things with just a tiny amount of space and make it look easy."
Irving posted his fourth 30-point game in the last seven and his fifth of the season as the Celtics (19-4) racked up their ninth win in their last 10 home games.
It was also the seventh straight TD Garden victory for Boston over Philadelphia (12-9).
Irving had help in this one as Marcus Morris, moved to the bench in a slight starting line-up shuffle, had two quick scoring bursts that produced 13 of his 17 points - one shy of his season high.
"I've said this before, we really need his scoring," Stevens added after Morris scored six straight points in a 9-0 run near the end of the third quarter and seven in a 9-2 spurt that captured control early in the fourth.
Al Horford posted 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists and rookie Jayson Tatum scored 15 - seven in the fourth quarter - in the win, which was a mere three-point game 1min 38sec into the fourth quarter.
Horford, talking about Morris, said: "I think he was the difference in the fourth quarter when we really couldn't score the ball. He got us going."
The big Celtics push came as the Sixers, playing the second game of a back-to-back and with big man Joel Embiid (22.9 points, 11.3 rebounds per game) resting, ran out of gas.
"We were playing the Boston Celtics, the best team in basketball, and I give them credit on doing some good things defensively," Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
Dario Saric led Philadelphia with 18 points and 10 rebounds. J. J. Redick scored 17 points, and rookie Ben Simmons had 15 points, seven assists, six rebounds and five steals.
Philadelphia stayed in the game by going 16 of 32 from three-point range. They made only 19 two-pointers on 52 tries.
According to Celtics radio broadcaster Sean Grande, Boston have won 52 straight games when holding the opposition below 99 points.
In Atlanta, LeBron James conjured a double-double as the Cleveland Cavaliers notched a 10th straight win.
Two days after being tossed out of a game for the first time in his NBA career, James scored 24 points with 12 assists in a 121-114 win over Atlanta (4-17).
Games Kyrie Irving has scored 30 points or more so far this season.
The Cavs' victory saw them improve to 15-7 in the Eastern Conference standings.
James was backed by Kevin Love, who also had a double-double with 25 points and 16 rebounds.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
NEW ORLEANS V UTAH
Singtel TV Ch110, 10am