Morning sports update: What Kyrie Irving said after the Celtics’ 97-92 loss to the Trail Blazers

Also: the Bruins on facing the Lightning, who's hitting well in spring training, and the anniversary of the United States' first Olympic gold medal in ice hockey.

Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and Kyrie Irving on the Celtics’ bench during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Red Sox play a spring training exhibition against the Nationals at 1:05 p.m. The Bruins host the Lightning in a matchup between the Eastern Conference’s top two teams at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

“I just want to be at the highest level playing,” Kyrie Irving said after the Celtics lost their fourth game in a row to the Trail Blazers. “That’s what I’m here for.”: 

“As long as we get there,” Irving said. “I can’t wait for all this BS about the regular season and keep getting better and talking over and over and over again about what we can do to keep getting better in the regular season [to end].”

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While Irving acknowledged the first and second playoff seeds in the Eastern Conference may be out of the Celtics’ reach, they stand only two-and-a-half games behind the 76ers for fourth place and four games back of third.

Though the Celtics have lost four games straight, The Boston Globe‘s Adam Himmelsbach wrote the team appeared encouraged by their play.

“We looked like we really wanted tonight to go well,” Brad Stevens said. “And it didn’t. And you’re going to have games like that, so [I’m] a lot more encouraged tonight than I was last night. Tonight, to come back and guard this team on the second night of a back-to-back and hold them under 100, you know, we gave ourselves a chance to win. We just didn’t score enough.”

“I’ll take that any day, us trying to make plays for each other and trying to come out with a win than not,” Marcus Smart said.

WBZ’s Adam Kaufman compiled Irving’s statistics in his last six games.

More from Boston.com:

Bruins forward Marcus Johansson on facing the Lightning: “That’s the best team in the league right now. I think they’re an unbelievable hockey team. They have a lot of skill. They come with five guys all the time and make it real hard on you, so you have to work for it. It’s going to be a good test.”

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Johansson was highly complimentary of “two great hockey players” in his new linemates David Krejci and Jake Debrusk after practice Wednesday.

Bruce Cassidy slightly downplayed the significance of Thursday’s game to the Globe‘s Frank Dell’Apa, pointing out that the Lightning arrive in Boston on the second night of a back-to-back and the Bruins remain without David Pastrnak.

“Having said that, I don’t think it’s just like a regular game,” Cassidy said. “We haven’t seen Tampa for a long time. They’re the cream of the crop in the NHL, so we’d like to see how we measure up against them, if that makes sense.”

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Rafael Devers launched a home run in a spring training game against the Rays on Wednesday:

Sox prospect Michael Chavis has hit three home runs in nine at-bats so far this spring.

Dwayne Wade hit a desperate buzzer-beater to upset the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday:

On this day: On Feb. 28, 1960, the United States men’s Olympic hockey team defeated Czechoslovakia 9-4 in Squaw Valley, Calif., to win the nation’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in ice hockey.

Forward Roger Christian led the way in the championship game with four goals, but it was Cambridge resident and former Harvard hockey player Bill Cleary who led the U.S. team in scoring (seven goals, seven assists) throughout the tournament. His brother and teammate at Harvard, Bob, also played on that team, scoring 10 points in seven games.

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