OKLAHOMA CITY – What a whirlwind of a game this was for Kyrie Irving.
The rim seemed like a moving target that Irving could never lock on to in the first half, only to absolutely dominate the Oklahoma City Thunder in leading the Celtics to a 101-94 come-from-behind win that extended their winning streak to a league-best seven in a row.
After starting off 1-for-9 shooting, Irving bounced back with a 9-for-13 shooting display in the second half and finished with a team-high 25 points.
I asked him what adjustments did he make to his game at halftime.
“I didn’t really make any adjustments,” he said. “The first four shots I took, they were pretty good looks. They were loading up on the weak-side when me and Al (Horford) were coming off our pick-and-rolls. It just took a matter of time for us to settle in.”
Once that happened, the defense began to click, shots began to fall more often and the Celtics delivered an unexpected victory on a night when they fell behind by as many as 18 points.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens was pleased with how Irving and the rest of his teammates played with poise in the second half after a first half in which very little went their way.
“Being able to stay the course and focus on the next task is important, and it’s hard to do,” Stevens said.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday’s 101-94 Boston Celtics win over the Oklahoma City Thunder which extended the Celtics’ league-best winning streak to seven in a row.
Al Horford: One big shot after another fell for Horford in the fourth quarter as he delivered yet another strong performance in helping lead the Celtics to victory. He finished with a 20 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter to go along with eight rebounds and four assists.
Kyrie Irving: After a first half Irving would just as soon forget ASAP, he bounced back in the second with arguably his most impressive game of the season. Irving led all Celtics with 25 points, 22 of which came in the second half after he missed eight of his nine shot attempts in the first half. He also had six assists and five rebounds.
Paul George: He spent most of the first half as the game’s dominant performer, and still finished with a strong game in leading the Thunder with a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Russell Westbrook: It was another night in which Westbrook seemed on pace for a triple-double, but a not-so-great showing in the second half - 7 points on 3-for-10 shooting with three turnovers which nearly equaled his four assists – had Westbrook finishing with a double-double of 19 points and 11 assists with six rebounds.
Jaylen Brown: The more he plays, the more he figures out exactly what he needs to contribute when his shots not falling. Brown was just 3-for-8 shooting, but finished with a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Marcus Morris: There was some clear and undeniable rust on his game after such a long layoff, but Morris’ presence was definitely needed and was among the factors contributing to Boston’s victory. In addition to doing a solid job defensively against Carmelo Anthony, Morris also had nine points and four rebounds with a plus/minus of +11 that was second only to Kyrie Irving (+15).
Carmelo Anthony: The Celtics collectively defended him well all game. While he was one of four players on the night to have a double-double, Anthony’s impact was minimal. He had 10 points on 3-for-17 shooting to go with a game-high 14 rebounds.