By Field Level Media
Kyrie Irving scored 37 points, Kevin Durant added 29 points, and the visiting Brooklyn Nets enjoyed a successful return to the NBA’s Christmas Day schedule by pulling away in the second half for a 123-95 victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday.
In his first regular-season game in Boston since joining the Nets, Irving made 13 of 21 shots, hit seven 3-pointers, and handed out eight assists. Irving scored 17 by halftime, but the Nets trailed by three before outscoring Boston 72-41 in the second half in their first Christmas Day game since facing Chicago in 2013.
Durant made 9 of 16 shots, hit 3 3-pointers, and came to life with an array of moves in the third quarter when he scored 16 points and made 6 of 7 shots.
Caris LeVert added 10 points for the Nets, who shot 54 percent and opened a season with two straight wins for the first time since 2010-11.
Jaylen Brown scored 27 points for the Celtics (1-1), who shot 33 percent in the second half and 38 percent overall. Jayson Tatum added 20 and eight rebounds while Marcus Smart contributed 13.
The Nets began securing the win when Durant and Irving rested in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Brooklyn scored nine straight points in a span of 94 seconds and took a 95-79 lead on a 3-pointer by Landry Shamet with 9:44 left and held a 99-86 lead when the star duo returned with 7:08 to play.
Irving and Durant combined to score Brooklyn’s next 12 points as the lead grew to 111-90 with 3:44 left on Irving’s 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Brooklyn held the Celtics to 31 percent shooting and took a 26-22 lead after the opening quarter on a putback dunk by Jeff Green with 1.2 seconds remaining. Neither team led by more than five in the second quarter and the Celtics took a 54-51 lead at halftime on Tatum’s 3-pointer with 41.5 seconds remaining.
The Nets took a 71-63 lead on Durant’s 3-pointer with 6:35 remaining in the third. Following Boston’s 7-2 spurt that got them within 73-70 on a free throw by Brown with 4:35 left, the Nets scored nine straight points to get an 82-70 lead on Irving’s layup with 2 1/2 minutes left and took an 86-77 lead into the fourth.