Kyrie Irving (23 points) Gets Help This Time Against Dallas As Al Horford, Jayson Tatum Shine in 97-90 Win


BOSTON — This time Kyrie Irving didn’t have to completely bail out the Celtics against the lowly Dallas Mavericks. He had some help from likely and unlikely places.

Playing without Jaylen Brown (swollen eye) and Marcus Morris (left knee rehab), Irving scored 23 points while Al Horford and Jayson Tatum each added 17 points in a 97-90 win over Dallas Wednesday night at TD Garden. Shane Larkin came off the bench to drain 3-of-5 from 3-point range to finish with 11 points.

MVP chants serenaded Irving as his three-point play with 3:15 left put the Celtics up 92-85 and essentially put to rest any upset hopes of the Mavericks, who battled all night but fell to 7-18 on the season. The Celtics finished their 5-game homestand with four straight wins and improved to 22-4 on the season.

Tatum continued his amazing rookie season by making more history. In scoring 17 points, Tatum became the first Celtics rookie to score more than 15 points in four consecutive games since Paul Pierce did so five straight times in April 1999.

Terry Rozier’s thunderous one-handed jam with 1:05 left put the Celtics up, 97-87, and sealed the win. For a full boxscore, click here.

Back on Nov. 21, the star Celtics guard poured in 47 points to help Boston erase a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit and beat Dallas, 110-102, for their 16th straight win. This time, Irving came up big late, with back-to-back layups on drives to the basket with under four minutes late. The five points in 30 seconds extended a tenuous 2-point lead and put the Celtics up 92-85.

The Celtics raced out to a 24-18 lead, thanks to eight first-quarter points from Kyrie Irving. But the lowly Mavs ran off 12 straight points to take a 30-24 lead early in the second quarter.

In the second quarter, the Mavericks were blazing hot from beyond the arc, knocking down 5-of-8 and taking a 57-47 halftime leadLeading the way was German sensation Maxi Kleber. He and fellow German Dirk Nowitzki gave the Mavericks momentum and confidence, drilling 3-points and getting out on the break. Kleber had two of his five blocks on an impressive five-second sequence against Al Horford and Daniel Theis late in the second quarter.

Brad Stevens, knowing he has three games in four nights starting Friday in San Antonio, got his entire bench involved, subbing in Shane Larkin, Gueschon Yabusele and Abel Nader for significant minutes.

In the third quarter, the Celtics started to clamp down on the defensive end, outscoring Dallas, 23-16.

The Celtics appeared ready to pull away for good in the opening moments of the fourth quarter. They were up 80-73 but the Mavericks responded with an 8-1 spurt to force an 81-81 tie.

Then Irving took over. The Celtics now hit the road for a three-game road trip starting Friday night in San Antonio. They play in Detroit Sunday before finishing the trip in Chicago on Monday night.