ATLANTA (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 30 points, Jaylen Brown added a career-high 27 and the Boston Celtics won their 15th straight game with a 110-99 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.
At 15-2, Boston leads the NBA and matched the best start in franchise history through 17 games. The winning streak is the club’s fifth-longest, four behind the 2008-09 team that set the franchise mark.
Dennis Schroder had 23 points, and Kent Bazemore added 19 for Atlanta. The Hawks are an Eastern Conference-worst 3-13, but they still had plenty of adrenaline following a 46-point victory over Sacramento — the biggest in franchise history — two nights ago
The Celtics erased a 16-point deficit to take their first lead on Brown’s 3-pointer midway through the third. It marked Boston’s fourth win when trailing by at least 16 during the streak.
Irving, playing with a protective mask to protect a minor facial fracture, ended the game with a right-handed finger-roll layup, delighting a few thousand Boston fans who were chanting “MVP! MVP!” in the fourth quarter.
In 31 minutes, Irving made 10 of 12 shots, including five 3-pointers, and hit all five of his free throws.
Irving, frustrated that the mask was affecting his peripheral vision two nights ago, took it off to help Boston beat defending NBA champion Golden State by four points. He scored 16 points, but was just 4 for 16 from the field. Brown was 10 of 13 from the field.
The Celtics lead NBA in scoring defense, but they gave up 35 points in the first quarter and trailed by 15 entering the second.
Atlanta used a 16-0 run in the first to take a 15-point lead. But fueled by Marcus Smart and other reserves, Boston pulled within four twice in the second and cut the lead to six in the closing minutes on Brown’s 3.
Marcus Morris and Jayson Tatum each had 14 points for Boston.
Celtics: Tatum was scoreless until he stole the ball and dunked to cut the lead to four in the third. The 19-year-old former Duke standout followed with an acrobatic, one-handed dunk on a fast break to make it 75-72 and had another dunk to put Boston up 78-77 near the end of the period. Tatum had all 14 of his points in the third.
Hawks: F Taurean Prince is developing into a solid option on offense, spinning for a layup against Shane Larkin and floating a soft assist on John Collins’ dunk that put Atlanta up 84-82. But Prince has a substandard reputation as a defender, and coach Mike Budenholzer gave him an earful after calling timeout in the third. Prince had just missed an assignment that left Brown open to hit the big 3 from the left corner.
Celtics: Visit Dallas, the NBA’s worst team, on Monday night.
Hawks: Visit San Antonio on Monday night.
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