It was not exactly the Masked Kyrie moment that fans on social media were calling for, but Kyrie Irving of the Celtics returned from a facial fracture and helped lead Boston to a 109-102 win over the Nets on Tuesday.
Irving, who had said before the game that he hated wearing a mask regardless of his past success while wearing one, was forced to endure the discomfort because of a fracture below his left eye that he sustained when he was inadvertently elbowed by his teammate, Aron Baynes, on Friday in the first quarter of a win over the Charlotte Hornets.
It was a battle between Irving and the molded plastic mask throughout the game, as he pulled it off and tossed it aside at any opportunity. But Boston was happy to have him back, as he produced 25 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds in 29 minutes at Barclays Center. Seven of his points came in the fourth quarter as Boston held off a late charge by the Nets, earning the team’s 13th consecutive victory.
“I just want to keep this thing as pretty as possible,” Irving said before the game, referring to his face. “It’s getting tougher and tougher the more aggressive I play.”
Irving then proved his point, and the necessity of the mask, when he collided with DeMarre Carroll of the Nets in the third quarter. Irving was not injured, but with his face still healing, the impact certainly could have exacerbated the injury if not for the added protection.