Irving, short-handed Celtics earn 97-90 win over Mavericks
BOSTON (AP) — Kyrie Irving had 23 points and five assists, and Jayson Tatum added 17 points and 10 rebounds to help the short-handed Boston Celtics slip past the Dallas Mavericks 97-90 on Wednesday night.
Boston's Al Horford finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Boston has won four straight and six of their last seven.
The Celtics played without Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. Brown sat with an inflamed right eye, while Morris was out due to left knee soreness.
It forced coach Brad Stevens to rely heavily on his reserves. They came through in the fourth, leading a 10-0 run to put Boston back in front 80-73.
Dallas fought back to tie it up at 85. But the Celtics ran off eight straight points to push their lead to 93-85 with 2 minutes to play.
Harrison Barnes led the Mavericks with 19 points and seven rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki added 16 points and six rebounds.
Boston's bench outscored their Dallas counterparts 36-23 for the game.
Dallas had just three turnovers in the opening 24 minutes and led 57-47 at the half.
The Celtics fought through periods of sloppiness offensively, committing seven turnovers in the half. They were also outscored 20-12 in the paint.
Mavericks: Were outrebounded 53-45. ... Were outscored 34-32 in the paint.
Celtics: Stevens said both Brown and Morris are expected to be with team when it departs for three-game trip on Thursday.
The Mavericks took a 59-47 lead earlier in the third quarter. But the Celtics erased the deficit with a 15-2 run. It was part of a fast-moving quarter that saw the lead change hands eight times.
Barnes had 12 points in period for Dallas. Horford paced Boston with 10 points.
Coach Rick Carlisle announced before the game that forward Nerlens Noel will have surgery later this week in Cleveland on his injured left thumb.
"He has some kind of a torn ligament, which is effecting his ability to catch the ball," Carlisle said. "He'll be out for several weeks. I don't know for how long."
Noel has appeared in 18 games this season, but hasn't played since Nov. 22.
Nowitzki hasn't said whether this will be his final NBA season at age 39. He's already tied Kobe Bryant for the most seasons spent with one franchise at 20. Another season would give him the outright record, but Carlisle said he believes it is still an open question.
"I believe it's going to depend on how he's feeling. I don't know any NBA player that wouldn't want to continue playing into oblivion," Carlisle said. "It just depends how he's going to be feeling or where the team's at — those kinds of things. But it's up to him."
Mavericks: At Milwaukee on Friday.
Celtics: Begin three-game road trip Friday at San Antonio.