Kyrie Irving leads Celtics past 76ers in overtime – Sports – The Enterprise, Brockton, MA

The Celtics guard scores 40 points, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers in the extra period and grabs 10 rebounds in a 121-114 Christmas Day victory at the TD Garden.

BOSTON – There was a reason for the extra bounce in his step this week as he led the Celtics to a pair of victories.

Kyrie Irving had nearly two dozen family members and friends visiting him for Christmas, and he wanted to put on a show for them during games against the Charlotte Hornets Sunday night and the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.

The appetizer was a 9-for-12 shooting performance against the Hornets when Irving scored 25 points in 29 minutes.

The main course came on Christmas when he was absolutely brilliant in leading the Celtics to a 121-114 overtime win over the Sixers at a very loud TD Garden, their best victory since a Nov. 16 win in OT against the Toronto Raptors.

All Irving did was put together a 40-point, 10-rebound gem that included back-to-back 3-pointers in the extra period to help the Celtics close out the game on a 13-1 run.

“I told my teammates, I came in the locker room, I said, ‘My family is here is to watch me play. I got 20-plus people from my family here and so I’m acting up,’’’ said Irving after the Celtics improved to 20-13. “Like, you guys have no idea, I’m so excited. I don’t really get a chance to have my family all in one place. It means a lot to me.

“They haven’t really seen me play since I was a kid, everybody here, my aunts, uncles, my friends. It just meant a lot to me.

“They were here against Charlotte as well and I just came out cooking. I’m like, man, it don’t even matter what the Hornets do, the Sixers do. I’m here to play for my family and my teammates. Christmas spirit. I missed it.’’

It marked the first time in Irving’s career that he had a 40-point, 10-rebound game. The last time a member of the Celtics reached those numbers was Dec. 2, 2005, when Paul Pierce had 43 points and 11 rebounds in a loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Irving made 17-of-33 shots, tying the game over Jimmy Butler with 10.9 seconds left in regulation, then deflating the Sixers with the pair of 3-pointers in a 32-second span in OT.

First, he gave the Celtics a 115-114 lead by scoring over Butler with 2:01 left, then pulled up in transition and dropped in a 30-footer with 1:29 remaining to make it 118-114.

“Some of that (stuff) don’t even surprise me anymore,’’ said Marcus Morris, who added 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting.

“That was great. It was a lot of fun,’’ said Al Horford of Irving’s clutch shot making. “I remember Kyle Korver (who played with Horford in Atlanta and Irving in Cleveland), when we got Kyrie at first, one of the things he told me was he makes shots in big moments. It’s great just having the ball in his hands.’’

Irving, who had 17 first-quarter points against the Hornets, had 16 in the opening quarter against the Sixers.

He was aggressive on offense and hitting the boards to help the Celtics, who missed Aron Baynes as they tried to deal with Joel Embiid (34 points, 16 rebounds).

“Come out and have fun,’’ said Irving. “You know, enjoy being out there competing with my teammates, a high-level game. Always talk about being on those big stages, just so much fun.

“It’s just competition at its highest. I love going against the best, so it’s not too often you get to do that in the regular season, especially on a holiday like Christmas. Got to open presents with my family this morning and come in to work. It’s great.

“I kind of let the game come to me and just wait for that moment to capitalize on it. Just trying to make my impact on the moments where they matter most and use my teammates to the best of my ability to utilize their strengths down the stretch.’’

Butler, who had 24 points in his first Sixers-Celtics game, did what he could to prevent a second Philadelphia loss here this season, but Irving denied that bid.

“He’s done that his entire career, take and make tough shots,’’ said Butler. “That’s why he’s the type of player that he is in the league, man. That’s why I respect his game so much.’’

Irving had plenty of help from Morris, Jayson Tatum (23 points, 10 rebounds), Terry Rozier (10 points, five rebounds) and Horford, who went past his minutes restriction and helped slow Embiid in the fourth quarter and OT.

But the two 3-pointers that helped the Celtics erase a five-point overtime deficit on the way to a seven-point win were the turning points in a thoroughly entertaining game.

“I wished he would have stayed on the bench,’’ said Sixers coach Brett Brown. “That would have been a great Christmas gift.’’


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