Warriors

Showdown set: Celtics win 13th straight, face streaking Warriors Thursday

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AP

Showdown set: Celtics win 13th straight, face streaking Warriors Thursday

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Kyrie Irving returned to the lineup and scored 25 points while wearing a mask, and the Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets 109-102 on Tuesday night for their 13th straight victory.

The Celtics remained unbeaten since an 0-2 start heading into their showdown Thursday in Boston against the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

Marcus Morris added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Jayson Tatum scored 19 points for the Celtics.

Irving missed one game with a minor facial fracture after he was hit by teammate Aron Baynes on Friday. He fiddled with the mask frequently, but it didn't seem to affect his play much. He made a jumper with 3:40 left after the Nets had closed within four points and drove for another basket about 35 seconds later.

Boston then finally put it away with Jaylen Brown's alley-oop feed to Tatum before Irving hit two free throws to make it 106-96.

Joe Harris scored 19 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Nets, who are without leading scorer D'Angelo Russell because of a bruised left knee. Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert added 15 points apiece.

Irving has had to play in a mask before, and he's done it well. He scored a then career-high 41 points in a loss at New York on Dec. 15, 2012 while with Cleveland.

The Celtics started 7 of 9 from the field to lead 17-4, but the Nets jumped ahead in the second quarter and countered every time Boston threated to pull away until the final minutes.

TIP-INS:
Celtics: Irving was not announced as a starter when lineups were introduced, even though coach Brad Stevens had said he would start, after an apparent mix-up between the coach and scorer's table. ... The Celtics have won six straight in Brooklyn, where they were cheered loudly and Irving even heard "MVP! MVP!" chants.

Nets: Brooklyn plays just four home games in November. Three are this week, and the Nets host Portland on Nov. 24 before going back on the road for three straight games. ... Coach Kenny Atkinson didn't put a timetable on Russell's return, saying he was getting daily updates. ... Rookie center Jarrett Allen returned after missing six games with a strained left foot.

MEXICAN FANS:
Entertainers Diego Alfaro and Georgina Holguin from Mexico attended the game to help promote the Nets' upcoming games in Mexico City to their home fans. Brooklyn will play Miami and Oklahoma City in December.

UP NEXT:
Celtics: Host Golden State on Thursday night.

Nets: Host Utah on Friday night.

Warriors brief: Shaun 'the stabilizing force' Livingston

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AP

Warriors brief: Shaun 'the stabilizing force' Livingston

As the regular season concluded and the Warriors were heading into the playoffs, the hottest name and topic of discussion was Quinn Cook. He had played exceptionally well in the absence of the Warriors stars, serving primarily as Steph Curry’s replacement.

To many it was an obvious assumption that Cook would insert himself into the starting lineup as the point guard for the first round of the playoffs as well. However, when Andre Iguodala surprisingly got the nod over Cook, the conversation changed to the Warriors’ desire to start a defensive unit and how the coaches would incorporate Cook into the bench rotations. Lost in all of this conversation was a forgotten man: Shaun Livingston.

This is the fourth season that Livingston served as Curry’s primary backup, until Cook’s late season flurry. While the quiet and stoic Livingston hasn’t received much fanfare over the years, his consistent play has been a “stabilizing force” in the Warriors second unit, as Steve Kerr referred to following their Game 4 loss. But where Livingston has excelled most in his brief but accomplished Warriors career is in the playoffs when Curry has been out.

Including the six games Curry missed in the 2015-16 playoffs and the four games missed so far this postseason, Livingston has averaged 11.8 points per game on 53 percent shooting, while adding 3.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds over 25 minutes. 

Livingston has scored in double digits in eight of the ten games, which in contrast, is the same number of games he scored in double figures over his last 71 regular season contests. As a member of the Warriors, Livingston has averaged 5.7 points over 18 minutes per game, on 52 percent shooting with 2.6 assists and 2.1 rebounds. 

Look for Livingston to be a stabilizing force in the Warriors lineup on Tuesday night as the team tries to advance to the second round to face a Pelicans team that is deep with very capable guards. Even with Curry’s eventual return, the Warriors will need Livingston’s length and ball handling skills to disrupt the Pelicans’ small ball attack.

But before the Warriors are able to turn their focus to New Orleans, you can expect Livingston to be as assertive and aggressive as ever trying to close out the series.

Steve Kerr takes blame, 'should have broken a clipboard' after early Game 4 turnovers

Steve Kerr takes blame, 'should have broken a clipboard' after early Game 4 turnovers

In Game 4 vs the Spurs, the Warriors committed their seventh turnover with 7:31 remaining...

... in the first quarter.

After practice on Monday, Steve Kerr talked about the loss in San Antonio.

[PODCAST: Player-by-player breakdown of Game 4 loss at Spurs]

"Lack of focus to start the game was really the key," Kerr told reporters. "More than energy, it was a sense of purpose. And I take a lot of the blame for that. I should know better as a coach of a team that's been up 3-0 plenty times, you gotta know you're going into the lion's den...

"It just felt like kind of a regular-season approach on a back-to-back instead of a closeout playoff game. I thought our guys played hard for the most part during the game, but not in a smart fashion. I don't think we played mindfully and that's gotta change."

Despite trailing by as many as 17 points late in the first half, the Warriors battled back.

It was a two-point game with a little less than six minutes remaining, but the Spurs simply made more plays down the stretch.

As for the first few minutes of the game:

"I could tell right away -- looking back at the tape I should have taken a timeout three minutes into the game and broken a clipboard (laughter)" Kerr said ."More than that I should have had them prepared pregame for what was coming and I didn't feel like I did a good job at that.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller