With their 116-106 victory Tuesday night in Cleveland, the Boston Celtics moved to 11-2 in Kyrie Irving’s absence. Truth. Reality. Fact.

There are those who will take those numbers as evidence they are better without him, but Marcus Smart, well aware of the stat, isn’t having it. And he thinks it’s important enough to state it clearly.

“Not at all,” Smart said. “You know, Kyrie is one of the greatest players to play this game, and I think if you ask anybody, they want Kyrie – especially when there’s games on the line, when there’s plays that need to be made, the plays that he makes.

“So we’re 11-2 without him, but it means nothing.”

Then again, it does. While it’s true that eight of the Kyrie-less wins have come over teams that are below .500 as of Wednesday morning, it still means the Celtics have underachieved the rest of the time. It means that a 33-29 record with a player of Irving’s obvious talent and that of the rest of the club is not what one would, or should, expect.

“You look at those numbers, and that should just tell you and tell us how much better we should be when he comes back and plays with us,” Smart said. “We’ve been in a slump, but we’re going to find it and it’s going to start clicking.”

The Celtics didn’t always play great defense against Cleveland, the team with the third-worst record in the NBA and the team against which they are 3-0 without Irving this season. But there was encouragement in the way the Celtics shared the ball, and Smart acknowledged they don’t always play that way when Irving is on the court.

“That’s the thing. We’ve been slacking,” he said.

Smart then indicated that the Celtics came to some overall conclusions and accords when they looked at video while their locker room door remained closed for an extended period after Sunday’s loss to San Antonio.

“I think we’re all on the same page now,” Smart said. “We came to an agreement that we’re all going to give everything we have for one another and try to finish this season off the right way and, you know, play the right way. And that’s why I love Kyrie. He plays hard. He doesn’t get a lot of credit for playing hard. He’s just a great player overall. He passes the ball, he scores the ball, he even plays defense, but he don’t get enough credit for that. Like I said, even though we’re 11-2 without him, we love him.”

WARRIORS: Golden State suspended forward Jordan Bell for one game for conduct detrimental to the team.

Bell missed Wednesday night’s game at Memphis. The team did not disclose a specific reason for the suspension.

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

THUNDER 107, PACERS 99: Paul George scored 31 points against his former team, and Oklahoma City won at home.

Steven Adams had 25 points and 12 rebounds and Russell Westbrook added 17 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his 29th triple-double of the season.

TRAIL BLAZERS 118, BULLS 98: Seth Curry scored a season-high 20 points and Portland won at Chicago.

Still shaken by Jusuf Nurkic’s gruesome leg injury two nights earlier in a double-overtime victory over Brooklyn that secured their sixth straight playoff appearance, the Blazers made it look easy against a short-handed team.

Curry made four 3-pointers, Rodney Hood added 15 points, and Enes Kanter and Zach Collins each had 13. Portland won its fifth in a row even though Damian Lillard scored a season-low 11 points.


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