Irving condemns Raptors to third consecutive defeat

Kyrie Irving scored a season-best 43 points, including four in overtime, and added 11 assists as the Boston Celtics came back to defeat the Toronto Raptors 123-116 on Friday night.

Gordon Hayward made a jumper and Irving made a lay-up to give Boston a four-point lead with 3:43 to play in overtime.

When Jayson Tatum made two free throws with 3:09 to play, Boston led by five. Irving’s 13-foot pull-up jumper gave Boston a seven-point lead. Tatum added 21 points, Hayward had 15 and Marcus Morris and Al Horford had 11 each for the Celtics.

Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 31 points and 15 rebounds. Serge Ibaka added 21 points, Pascal Siakam 16, Kyle Lowry 14 and Jonas Valanciunas 11 for the Raptors. Danny Green also had 11 points for the Raptors before fouling out with 3:43 to play in the fourth quarter.

The Raptors, led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, took a four-point edge into the fourth.

Irving made a running lay-up after a missed shot by the Raptors to give the Celtics a 92-90 lead with 7:06 to play. Delon Wright hit a three-pointer after a Boston miss to give Toronto a four-point lead with 1:29 left.

Boston came back to tie it at 107 with two free throws by Hayward with 24 seconds remaining. Leonard then missed a 17-footer in the final second to force overtime.

The Celtics used a 16-4 burst to lead 21-16 with 3:46 left in the first quarter, which ended with Boston ahead 30-27. Irving topped all scorers with 12 points.

A 15-foot jumper by Morris gave Boston a 44-31 lead with 7:36 left in the second quarter. The Raptors tightened their defense and took a one-point lead on Ibaka’s 20-footer with 1:30 play in the first half. But Irving’s lay-up gave Boston a 54-52 half-time lead.

Toronto lost OG Anunoby, who scored five points in 9:21, to a sprained right wrist in the first half.

It was the first time Irving has scored at least 40 points with 10 or more assists in a game. He was the first player do it in the NBA this year, and the first Celtics player since Antoine Walker in 2001.

“Kyrie did a great job in the fourth quarter knocking down shots,” said Kawhi Leonard, who scored 31 points and had a season-high 15 rebounds for Toronto. “We fought hard tonight, they played a better game and we’ve just got to keep playing better.”

The game winning Irving was clearly impressed with the Raptors, he said: “It was just a veteran game out there, just great competition for a Friday night in the NBA. You’ve got to appreciate that, two great teams going at it. And I’m pretty sure we’ll see them down the road.”

Nick Nurse spoke after the game about Fred Van Vleet. Last season’s super-sub started the game 0-for-5 from three in the first half and finished 0-for-6. This, after coming into the game shooting just 35 per cent from the floor. Nurse said: “He’s probably not 100 per cent healthy.

“He’s not getting the ball where he normally gets it to. He’s affected by that. But there’s nobody tougher. He’s gonna be out there playing, battling and scrapping. We’ll hopefully try to get through these two games and then try to rest him a little bit until we get to the next part of our road trip.”

Next up for the Raptors is a match-up against the Bulls on Saturday evening.

Peace

Burke

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