Squandering two double-digit leads, the Boston Celtics leaned on their most reliable scorers to pull out a 107-99 victory over the Miami Heat on Monday evening, their ninth straight triumph on the parquet floor at TD Garden.
Kyrie Irving put in a stellar effort on both ends of the court, flirting with a triple-double as he notched 26 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high eight steals.
Jayson Tatum followed with 19 points, while Marcus Morris had 17. Al Horford posted 16 points with 12 rebounds in a solid performance from Boston’s starting five.
Miami was led by Derrick Jones Jr. and Dion Waiters, who each had 18 points off the bench.
With the win, the Celtics improved to 29-18, while the Heat fell to 22-23.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Al Horford
CELTICS SHOW GOOD PACE
A hot start from Morris and Tatum got the Celtics out front early in the opening stint as Boston held a 33-23 lead after the first quarter.
The Celtics ran out to a quick 12-2 advantage in the opening 3:37 bookended by three-pointers from Morris and Tatum. The duo paired to shoot 7-for-11 from the floor in the first and 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. Morris led all Celtics with nine points while Tatum followed with eight. After Miami pulled back within five, Boston answered with a 12-5 run.
Irving hit a three and was fouled, converting the four-point play to make 31-19 with 2:38 left in the quarter.
Defense took over in the final minutes of the quarter, with Aron Baynes making his presence felt around the rim.
C’S SUFFER ARCTIC BLAST
The Celtics went ice cold in the second quarter, opening the door up for the Heat, who outscored Boston 27-17 to pull even at 50-50 heading into the half.
Miami surged back with a 6-0 run to open the second frame to pull within four. Meanwhile, the Celtics were 0-for-7 over the opening 3:50. Gordon Hayward snapped that streak with a dribble drive lay-in to make it 37-29. But Miami answered with a 6-0 run to pull within two with 6:44 left in the half.
The teams went back-and-forth from there, with Irving finding Marcus Smart in transition for a three to put the Celtics up 43-41 with 4:13 to play.
Irving then traded three’s with Waiters to give the C’s a 46-44 lead, but the team remained deadlocked until the halftime buzzer. Irving led all scorers with 16 points at the break.
BACK ON TRACK
The Celtics regained their hot hand in the second half, going 16-for-22 from the floor and outscoring Miami 37-18 in the third quarter to take a commanding 87-68 lead into the final frame.
Boston opened the second half on a 9-0 run, starting 4-for-4 from the floor. The lead expanded to double digits with a Horford jump shot. Tatum hit a jumper to make it 67-56 with 6:01 remaining. Following a three from Tyler Johnson, the C’s went on a 7-0 run to extend the lead to 14.
Tatum continued his torrid start to the second half with a corner three to make it 75-60 with 3:45 remaining. Morris gave the Celtics their biggest lead when he made it 82-63 with a three of his own off a behind-the-back feed from Irving following his seventh steal.
The Boston lead was as much as 21 after Terry Rozier hit a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 87-66 with 45 seconds left.
STARTERS GET IT DONE
The Celtics were not able to close it out easily in the final frame following a scorching hot third quarter. The C’s bench remained ice cold, but Boston’s starting five put the finishing touches on the win in the final five minutes.
Like they did in the second quarter, the Heat crept back into contention with a 9-0 run in the early goings of the fourth. Semi Ojeleye hit a three from the elbow to make it 99-83 with 6:48 to play.
Brad Stevens was forced to bring his starters back in as Miami was in the midst of an 11-0 run that made it 99-94 with 4:32 remaining. Following a timeout, Irving snapped the cold spell with back-to-back buckets to give the C’s a nine-point lead to help seal the victory.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Al flashing it at both ends.
The Celtics remain at home for a matchup with the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tip-off from TD Garden is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET.