LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Kyrie Irving laid on a 47-point masterclass to give the Boston Celtics a 16th straight victory on Monday as the Cleveland Cavaliers thrashed the Detroit Pistons to continue their revival.
Irving was in dazzling form for Boston as they rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to overhaul the Dallas Mavericks 110-102 in overtime.
Irving’s haul included five three-pointers and three rebounds as Boston came back from 89-79 down with five minutes remaining in the final quarter to win.
Boston improved to 16-2 with the victory to head the Eastern Conference. Dallas fell to 3-15 with the loss.
Irving delivered 10 of his points in overtime, single-handedly pulling Boston clear of Dallas in the decisive phase of the game.
It was the fourth-highest scoring game of Irving’s career and helped Boston tie the franchises fourth-longest winning streak.
Elsewhere on Monday, Cleveland sent a message to their rivals in the Eastern Conference with a ruthless walloping of Detroit.
The Cavs 116-88 blowout was the clearest sign yet that the 2016 NBA champions have shaken off their early-season problems.
Cleveland have now won five games in a row and have improved to 10-7.
Detroit, who entered the game with an impressive 11-5 record, were put firmly in their place by a Cavaliers side who were determined to make a statement.
Kevin Love led the scoring with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists while LeBron James had 18 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.
Jae Crowder had 18 points with Jose Calderon adding 14. James saluted the way Cleveland maintained their scoring momentum.
“I just wanted to keep the pedal down,” James said of the big win.
“We haven’t had a win like this in a very long time. We come out sometimes in the third quarter and have a slow start and teams get back into it.
“But today, we just kept it going. That’s a pretty big step for us.”
– Cousins ejected –
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy chalked up the defeat to a bad night at the office.
“For most teams in this league, there’s three, four, five of those games a year,” Van Gundy said.
“Tonight was one of them. We didn’t play well at either end. We made mistakes and they played terrifically.”
In other games on Monday, Anthony Davis scored 36 points to help the New Orleans Pelicans defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-107 in a bruising encounter at the Smoothie King Center in Louisiana.
The Pelicans rallied from 19 points down in the first quarter to claim a victory that was overshadowed by DeMarcus Cousins’ ejection for an elbow on Russell Westbrook in the third quarter.
Cousins was given his marching orders after grabbing a rebound. As he attempted to break free from Westbrook, Cousins swung his elbow wildly into the Thunder player’s head and was given a flagrant two before being tossed from the game.
Westbrook would go on to complete his fifth triple-double of the season with 22 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists.
In Philadelphia, 76ers star Ben Simmons continued his superb start to the season with 27 points in a 107-86 win over the Utah Jazz.
Australian rookie Simmons took full advantage of the absence of Jazz stalwart Rudy Gobert to finish with the highest single-game points total of his career.
“Obviously (with) him out, it was a key for us to go inside,” said Simmons, whose 10 rebounds gave him his 11th double-double.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers’ woes continued as they crashed to a ninth straight defeat to the New York Knicks.
Kristaps Porzingis scored 25 points for New York at Madison Square Garden as the Clippers’ problems mounted.
“When you lose nine games in a row, you feel sorry for yourself when things don’t go right, and you can’t do that,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said.