BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving took over at just the right time on Wednesday night.
Irving checked back into the game with 7:23 remaining and scored seven of his 23 points in a span of 3:05 to lead the short-handed Boston Celtics to a 97-90 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Playing without Jaylen Brown (swollen eye) and Marcus Morris (knee rehab), the Celtics won their fourth straight and improved to 22-4, 8-0 against the Western Conference and 2-0 against the Mavericks.
Boston's Marcus Smart scored his only basket of the game to snap an 85-85 tie with 4:14 remaining and trigger an 8-0 run that broke it open.
Irving scored five straight points and then added another basket as the Celtics clinched their latest win with a 12-2 run down the stretch.
Al Horford, playing his usual all-around game, had 17 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and two steals. Rookie Jayson Tatum also scored 17 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Terry Rozier had 12 points and nine assists, and Shane Larkin, coming off the bench after not playing for five straight games, scored 11 points in 15 minutes.
Daniel Theis grabbed 11 rebounds in 17 minutes for Boston.
Harrison Barnes led the Mavericks (7-18) with 19 points and seven rebounds while Dirk Nowitzki, perhaps playing in his final game in Boston, had 16 points. Maxi Kleber added 13 points and five blocked shots, and rookie Dennis Smith Jr. had 12 points.
The Celtics, who trailed by 10 at halftime, recorded 25 assists on 36 baskets.
Without Brown, who woke up with a swollen eye, and Morris, who has been so effective coming off the bench in recent games, the Celtics were missing 27.4 points and 13.6 rebounds per game, causing coach Brad Stevens to go deep into his bench.
NOTES: The Mavericks announced C Nerlens Noel, who had a homecoming on this trip, will fly to Cleveland on Thursday and have thumb surgery for a torn ligament near his left thumb Friday. He could be back as soon as mid-January. ... Northeastern Huskies alum J.J. Berea visited his old campus Wednesday to raise money for Paws for Puerto Rico fundraising effort as he continues to try to help his devastated homeland. ... Dallas F Dirk Nowitzki, who may be playing his final season, got an ovation in pregame introductions. ... The Mavs continue their three-game road trip at Milwaukee on Friday, while the Celtics start a three-game trip in San Antonio the same night.