Celtics' Kyrie Irving: No black mask if you want me to pass

Celtics' Kyrie Irving: No black mask if you want me to pass

Celtics' Kyrie Irving: No black mask if you want me to pass

Irving returned to the lineup and scored 25 points while wearing the mask, and the Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets 109-102 on Tuesday night to remain unbeaten since an 0-2 start.

The Celtics, whose 13-2 record is the NBA's best, are on their longest win streak since winning 14 in a row in November and December of 2010, with the team record of 19 consecutive wins coming in November and December of 2008.

Irving was aware that social media was clamoring for a return of the black mask but playfully detailed why it was better to stick with a clear one to protect the facial fracture he suffered when a teammate elbowed him last week. That forced the 25-year-old guard to miss Sunday's 95-94 victory over Toronto. "It's the difference in having something over your face".

"It's nearly like having somewhat foggy blinders on", Irving said. "So, you take advantage of the two nights that you see them".

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"I was telling some of my teammates, some of the fans, too, they were asking me whether I was going to wear the black mask", Irving said.

Irving repeatedly wrestled with the mask Tuesday, fidgeting with the straps at times while dribbling up the court and removing it completely during nearly every dead-ball situation.

"It's a piece of plastic on your face", said Irving, who also wore a mask for 19 games during the 2012-13 season with Cleveland. "You've got to have the complete game, and that's where we were lacking".

"They turned up their defense and we couldn't handle it", Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "We just have to play really solid on both ends and do what we do as well as we can and see where we stand".

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As of right now, the clear-cut pick would be the Boston Celtics, who have surged after losing prized free agent Gordon Hayward due to a horrific injury during the season opener.

In other National Basketball Association games Tuesday, DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points and the Toronto Raptors built a big lead in the first half and held on for a 129-113 victory over the Houston Rockets in Houston.

Kyle Lowry and C.J. Miles scored 19 points apiece for Toronto, with the latter drilling 6-of-9 three-pointers off the bench.

James Harden led Houston (11-4) with 38 points and 11 assists, going 19-of-19 from the free throw line. LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 32 points in his hometown and the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Dallas Mavericks 97-91 in Dallas.

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