PHI
BOS

No Text

Celtics ride Irving's 36 to 108-97 win over scrappy 76ers

BOSTON (AP) Isaiah Thomas developed a reputation in Boston for big performances late in games. It's quickly becoming apparent that the Celtics probably have an even more potent scoring weapon in Kyrie Irving.

The star guard scored 36 points and Boston held off the weary and short-handed Philadelphia 76ers 108-97 on Thursday night to improve the NBA's best record to 19-4.

It was Irving's fifth game this season with 30 or more points. Al Horford added 21 points and eight rebounds, and Marcus Morris had 17 points as the Celtics bounced back from Monday night's home loss to Detroit with their ninth victory in 11 games.

''It's go time, man,'' Irving said of his mindset in the fourth quarter. ''Especially when the game is in the balance. It's the best time to play. It's just ultimate freedom.''

Boston led by five at the end of the third quarter but started the fourth by connecting on seven of its first 11 shots to increase the margin to 95-82. Irving had nine points in the final 12 minutes.

''It's a luxury. Not a lot of teams have that,'' Horford said of Irving's ability to take over games. ''His will to win and make those shots when we need them most - it just keeps impressing me game by game.''

Dario Saric led Philadelphia with 18 points. JJ Redick finished with 17 and Ben Simmons had 15.

''Kyrie is obviously amazing,'' Redick said. ''Horford doesn't get enough credit for how good he is offensively. As good as Kyrie is, Horford is the hub of everything they do.''

It was the third game in four nights for the 76ers, who have lost two of three. Saturday's game against Detroit will conclude a week featuring matchups with the East's three top teams.

Philadelphia played without center Joel Embiid, who continues to rest on the second night of back-to-backs.

With Embiid out, Celtics coach Brad Stevens went with a bigger lineup, starting Aron Baynes in place of Morris.

Philadelphia was able to keep the game tight by knocking down 16 3-pointers.

TIP-INS

76ers: A night after taking 29 free throws, an NBA rookie record, Simmons went to the line only four times. ... Embiid, Markelle Fultz (right shoulder soreness), T.J. McConnell (sprained AC joint, left shoulder) and Jahlil Okafor (individualized training) were not with the team.

Celtics: Marcus Smart left in the fourth quarter with pain in his right ankle. He got treatment in the locker room and said afterward that it was feeling better. ... Irving had five of Boston's 12 3-pointers. ... Boston outscored Philadelphia 44-36 in the paint.

QUOTABLE

''He's certainly one of the most gifted scorers in the game. He can do things just with a tiny amount of space and make it look easy.'' - Stevens on Irving.

RUNNING TIME

The Celtics ended the second quarter on an 11-3 run and took a 54-44 lead into halftime. Boston shot 48 percent from the field and was 7 of 16 from beyond the 3-point line.

Philadelphia erased a 12-point deficit and took a 67-65 lead in the third quarter, but Boston got hot again, ending that period on an 11-4 run that included six points by Morris.

TOUGH SCHEDULE

The Sixers have already played some of the league's top teams just 21 games into the season. Thursday was their second meeting with the Celtics, and they've also played Golden State and Houston twice, and Cleveland.

But coach Brett Brown is thankful for the tough road they've plodded thus far.

''We're playing NBA royalty right now,'' Brown said. ''We're playing against the league's best. The analytics people tell us we've had the most difficult schedule to date in the NBA, and it feels like that. But I think it expedites learning. ... You're always learning from All-Stars.''

UP NEXT

76ers: Begin a three-game homestand Saturday against the Detroit Pistons.

Celtics: Continue their five-game homestand Saturday against the Phoenix Suns.

---

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Copyright 2017 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
Min. Per Game
Pts. Per Game
Ast. Per Game
Reb. Per Game
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
  24-second shot clock violation turnover 0:01
+ 2 Ben Simmons made driving layup 0:27
+ 3 Jayson Tatum made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Kyrie Irving 0:38
+ 1 Ben Simmons made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:59
+ 1 Ben Simmons made 1st of 2 free throws 0:59
  Shooting foul on Marcus Smart 0:59
+ 2 Jayson Tatum made driving layup 1:04
+ 3 JJ Redick made 3-pt. jump shot 1:20
  Personal foul on Semi Ojeleye 1:21
+ 2 Al Horford made jump shot, assist by Marcus Smart 1:25
  Defensive rebound by Semi Ojeleye 1:43
Team Stats
Points 97 108
Field Goals 35-84 (41.7%) 40-79 (50.6%)
3-Pointers 16-32 (50.0%) 12-29 (41.4%)
Free Throws 11-18 (61.1%) 16-20 (80.0%)
Total Rebounds 53 46
Offensive 15 7
Defensive 30 33
Team 8 6
Assists 24 25
Steals 11 7
Blocks 1 7
Turnovers 19 16
Fouls 22 20
Technicals 2 0
15 PTS, 6 REB, 7 AST
36 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST
1234T
away team logo 76ers 12-9 2222272697
home team logo Celtics 19-4 28262232108
Team Stats
away team logo 76ers 12-9 108.8 PPG 49.5 RPG 25.8 APG
home team logo Celtics 19-4 101.4 PPG 41.7 RPG 21.2 APG
Key Players
D. Saric F 14.6 PPG 6.7 RPG 2.6 APG 45.3 FG%
K. Irving G 24.4 PPG 3.8 RPG 5.1 APG 49.1 FG%
Top Scorers
D. Saric F 18 PTS 10 REB 4 AST
K. Irving G 36 PTS 4 REB 3 AST
41.7 FG% 50.6
50.0 3PT FG% 41.4
61.1 FT% 80.0
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Saric 34 18 10 4 0 0 2 4 6/16 3/6 3/6 5 5 34 -1
J. Redick 33 17 3 5 1 1 2 1 5/15 4/6 3/3 0 3 30 -2
B. Simmons 39 15 6 7 5 0 5 1 6/14 0/0 3/4 4 2 35 -10
R. Covington 31 11 5 1 1 0 4 4 4/13 3/10 0/0 0 5 15 -8
A. Johnson 21 6 6 4 3 0 1 3 2/5 0/1 2/5 2 4 22 -7
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Saric 34 18 10 4 0 0 2 4 6/16 3/6 3/6 5 5 34 -1
J. Redick 33 17 3 5 1 1 2 1 5/15 4/6 3/3 0 3 30 -2
B. Simmons 39 15 6 7 5 0 5 1 6/14 0/0 3/4 4 2 35 -10
R. Covington 31 11 5 1 1 0 4 4 4/13 3/10 0/0 0 5 15 -8
A. Johnson 21 6 6 4 3 0 1 3 2/5 0/1 2/5 2 4 22 -7
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
T. Luwawu-Cabarrot 17 11 4 0 0 0 0 1 4/5 3/4 0/0 0 4 15 -13
J. Bayless 31 10 4 3 0 0 4 5 4/9 2/4 0/0 1 3 16 -15
R. Holmes 19 9 7 0 0 0 1 2 4/7 1/1 0/0 3 4 15 -4
N. Stauskas 9 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 1 +5
J. Pullen - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Anderson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Embiid - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. McAdoo - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Okafor - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. McConnell - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
F. Korkmaz - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Fultz - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 234 97 45 24 11 1 19 22 35/84 16/32 11/18 15 30 183 -55
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Irving 32 36 4 3 0 0 2 1 12/21 5/8 7/8 1 3 44 +2
A. Horford 34 21 8 5 0 2 2 2 9/12 2/3 1/2 0 8 39 +10
J. Tatum 27 15 2 2 2 0 0 1 6/11 2/3 1/3 0 2 23 +7
A. Baynes 13 2 2 0 1 2 0 0 0/1 0/0 2/2 0 2 7 +2
J. Brown 21 2 3 2 1 0 4 4 1/6 0/3 0/0 2 1 6 -9
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Irving 32 36 4 3 0 0 2 1 12/21 5/8 7/8 1 3 44 +2
A. Horford 34 21 8 5 0 2 2 2 9/12 2/3 1/2 0 8 39 +10
J. Tatum 27 15 2 2 2 0 0 1 6/11 2/3 1/3 0 2 23 +7
A. Baynes 13 2 2 0 1 2 0 0 0/1 0/0 2/2 0 2 7 +2
J. Brown 21 2 3 2 1 0 4 4 1/6 0/3 0/0 2 1 6 -9
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
M. Morris 27 17 5 3 1 0 1 3 6/11 0/3 5/5 0 5 28 +13
T. Rozier 19 6 2 2 0 0 0 3 2/7 2/5 0/0 1 1 12 +13
M. Smart 32 5 2 8 1 0 6 3 2/6 1/3 0/0 0 2 18 +15
D. Theis 13 4 8 0 1 3 1 2 2/3 0/1 0/0 2 6 15 +1
S. Ojeleye 16 0 4 0 0 0 0 1 0/1 0/0 0/0 1 3 4 +1
G. Hayward - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Nader - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S. Larkin - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Bird - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Allen - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Yabusele - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 234 108 40 25 7 7 16 20 40/79 12/29 16/20 7 33 196 +55