OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — Kyrie Irving and Al Horford would not let the Celtics be denied Friday night.
Irving scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half, while Al Horford (20 points) connected on all four of his 3-point shots to rescue the Celtics from an 18-point halftime deficit and lead Boston to an improbable 101-94 road win over the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night.
Irving and Horford scored 39 of Boston’s 64 second-half points. The Celtics have won seven straight after starting the season 0-2, a first in NBA history.
With Irving and Jaylen Brown struggling badly from the field, the Thunder took complete command in the first half. Russell Westbrook scored 12 of his 19 points and added seven assists, helping the Thunder take a 55-37 halftime lead. Irving and Brown were a combined 2 for 13. The lone bright spot was rookie Jayson Tatum, who scored a team-high 13 points in the half, including a pair of threes.
The Celtics outscored the Thunder 30-16 in the third quarter, using swarming defense from Brown and Smart and hot shooting from Irving.
A wide-open three from Irving on the left wing drew the Celtics within six, 65-59, with 4:28 left in the third quarter. The jumper in transition capped an 11-3 run and caused the Thunder to call a timeout.
Irving continued his one-man rescue effort with a jumper and layup moments later, bringing the Celtics within two, 67-65. Two Marcus Smart free throws with 1:08 left in the period brought the Celtics within one, 68-67.
Another big factor in the third-quarter push was Marcus Morris, making his season debut. He scored seven of his nine points in the quarter.
With the bench opening the fourth quarter, Terry Rozier nailed a three and Jayson Tatum found Aron Baynes on a pick and roll to close to within one again, 73-72.
Semi Ojeleye drained a three with 5:56 left, and the Celtics finally drew even, 79-79. Horford followed up with a wide-open three for Boston’s first lead, 82-79, since a 1-0 lead in the opening minute.
Then Irving took over. He caught a pass from Horford and hit a three while being fouled by Westbrook with 4:17 left. He missed the free throw but followed up to get the offensive rebound and put back a layup. His eighth straight made field goal capped a 5-point play and put the Celtics up, 87-81.
The Celtics caught another huge break when Horford drilled a three as the shot clock expired, giving the Celtics their biggest lead, 90-83, with 3:03 left. Horford’s fourth three with just over a minute left put the Celtics up, 95-91. Horford followed with a jumper to put the Celtics up, 97-91, with 41 seconds left.
The Celtics return to action on their three-game road trip with a contest in Orlando Sunday night.