Celtics 109, Nets 102
Kyrie Irving returned to the lineup and scored 25 points while wearing a mask, and Boston beat host Brooklyn on Tuesday night for its 13th straight victory.
The Celtics remained unbeaten since an 0-2 start heading into their showdown Thursday in Boston against the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Marcus Morris added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Jayson Tatum scored 19 points for the Celtics.
Irving missed one game with a minor facial fracture after he was hit by teammate Aron Baynes on Friday. He fiddled with the mask frequently, but it didn’t seem to affect his play much.
He made a jumper with 3:40 left after the Nets had closed within four points and drove for another basket about 35 seconds later.
Boston then finally put it away with Jaylen Brown’s alley-oop feed to Tatum before Irving hit two free throws to make it 106-96.
Joe Harris scored 19 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Nets, who are without leading scorer D’Angelo Russell because of a bruised left knee. Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert added 15 points each.
The Celtics started 7-of-9 from the field to lead 17-4, but the Nets jumped ahead in the second quarter and countered every time Boston threated to pull away until the final minutes.
Raptors 129, Rockets 113
DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points and Toronto built a big lead in the first half and held on for a win over host Houston. James Harden had 38 points and made 19 of 19 foul shots for the Rockets, who ended a six-game winning streak.
Houston scored six straight points, including three free throws from Harden, to make it 108-103 with about 7½ minutes left.
Delon Wright made a free throw for the Raptors soon after that, and OG Anunoby connected for Toronto’s first field goal in more than three minutes on a 3-pointer with 6:25 remaining. After Wright’s layup, Kyle Lowry stole the ball from Harden, and DeRozan finished on the other end with a dunk to make it 116-103.
Harden got Houston going again with a four-point play. The free throw was his 19th.
DeRozan and Serge Ibaka had back-to-back dunks after Harden’s big play to make it 120-107 with about three minutes left and sent many of the home fans toward the exits.
NBA: Irving scores 25 in Celtics’ win
Celtics 109, Nets 102