Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving drives to the basket past New York Knicks guard Kadeem Allen.
Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving drives to the basket past New York Knicks guard Kadeem Allen.

NBA wrap: free agent Irving applauded by rival fans

KYRIE Irving totalled 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists before a Madison Square Garden crowd eager to start the free agent wooing five months early as the Boston Celtics beat New York 113-99 in the Knicks' first game since trading Kristaps Porzingis.

The trade to Dallas gave the Knicks money to chase two top free agents this summer and fans on Friday (local time) showed Irving they want him to be one of them, cheering him before and during his return from a two-game absence with a hip injury.

Marcus Morris added 18 points for the Celtics, who won for the eighth time in nine games.

Al Horford and Gordon Hayward contributed 14 apiece, Jayson Tatum chipped in 13 and Australian Aron Baynes made nine.

Damyean Dotson scored 22 points and Kevin Knox had 21 for the Knicks, who dropped their 12th straight.

Irving is one of the headline names in the 2019 free agent class.

And although he said at a Celtics fan event last year he intended to re-sign in Boston, that might be no guarantee.

He told reporters at the morning shoot-around to "Ask me July 1" if his plans had changed.

Irving received a loud ovation when starting line-ups were announced and again when he touched the ball early in the game.

A brief "We want Kyrie! We want Kyrie!" chant echoed through the arena in the third quarter.

The Knicks dealt Tim Hardaway Jr, Courtney Lee and Trey Burke to Dallas along with the injured Porzingis, getting Dennis Smith Jr, DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews in return, plus two future first-round picks.

The new players weren't available, so the Knicks started with a backcourt of Dotson and Kadeem Allen.

In other games, Kemba Walker scored 23 points, Marvin Williams hit two key three-pointers and Bismack Biyombo swatted away a pair of late shots as the Charlotte Hornets beat the depleted Memphis Grizzlies 100-92.

Paul George scored a game-high 43 points, Russell Westbrook posted his 18th triple-double and the Oklahoma City Thunder continued their offensive surge in a 118-102 rout of the hosting Miami Heat.

- AP