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NBA: Kyrie Irving pushes the Celtics past the Warriors for their 14th consecutive victory

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Celtics guard Kyrie Irving passes behind Warriors guard Klay Thompson during the third quarter of a gaem on Nov. 16.
(Michael Dwyer / Associated Press)

Kyrie Irving had 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws that put Boston ahead in the closing seconds, and the Celtics beat the Golden State Warriors 92-88 on Thursday night for their 14th straight victory.

Jaylen Brown had 22 points and seven rebounds, and Al Horford added 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Kevin Durant has 24 points for Golden State. The defending champion Warriors had won seven in a row.

Playing his second game since suffering a facial fracture, Irving shed his protective mask in the second quarter. Then, with the game tied at 88, he was fouled on his layup attempt and calmly made a pair of free throws. Durant then came up empty on his jumper on the other end.

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Golden State led by as many as 17, but had to lean heavily on its reserves as its trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant struggled offensively.

Curry, who returned to action after missing a game with a bruised right thigh, was the most ineffective. He was three of 14 from the field — two of nine from the three-point line — and had nine points.

Curry sat for a long stretch after picking up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.

Boston came in limiting opponents to just 94.5 points per game, the stingiest mark in the NBA this season. It did even better against a Warriors team that entered the night averaging an NBA-best 119.6 points per game.

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The Warriors went without a point from Durant’s 20-foot pull-up with 4:49 left in the third quarter until Omri Casspi’s floater with 34.5 left tied it at 68 — a 19-2 Celtics’ run.

Curry, Durant and Thompson were just seven of 26 combined from the field in the first half. But the Warriors were able to maintain their lead thanks to 14 fast-break points.

Durant was the only one of the three to score during a 12-0 Warriors run late in the second quarter.

Boston trailed by just 47-42 at the half, closing the quarter with a 13-2 spurt.

Rockets put up 90 in first half, beat Suns 142-116

James Harden had 23 of his 48 points in the second quarter while the Houston Rockets scored 90 points in the first half en route to a 142-116 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

Houston dominated with Chris Paul back in the lineup after missing 14 games with a knee injury. The Rockets made 61 percent of their first-half shots to match the second-most points in a first half in NBA history.

Houston came up 14 points shy of the franchise record for points in a game. The Rockets knocked down 21 of 44 three-point attempts, and Harden made all 18 of his free throws.

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Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer, had 33 points at halftime. Houston used a 13-1 over the final 3:08 of the first quarter to take control and was never threatened after that, leading 45-23 going into the second.

Paul, who hadn’t played since the season opener, got the start and didn’t miss a beat, scoring 11 points and handing out 10 assists in limited action.

Coach Mike D’Antoni said before the game that getting the two stars, Harden and Paul, in sync will “take care of itself over the next week or so.” D’Antoni planned to play Paul for 20 minutes; Paul saw 21 minutes of action and sat out most of the fourth quarter.

Ryan Anderson added 24 points for the Rockets, who have won seven of eight.

The Suns also shot well in the first half, getting 65 points before the break. They got the lead down to 14 with one of Troy Daniels’ six three-pointers in the second quarter, but the Rockets repeatedly scored with ease at the other end.

Daniels tied a Suns franchise record for threes in a quarter and led Phoenix with 23 points. Devin Booker added 18 points and 10 assists.

The Suns have lost seven of eight.

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sports@latimes.com


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