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Dinwiddie paces Nets in win over Celtics as Irving looks on

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Agence France-Presse

Kyrie Irving again watched from the sidelines on Friday as his Brooklyn Nets bounced back against his former NBA team, beating the Boston Celtics 112-107 at Barclays Center.

Irving missed his eighth straight game with a right shoulder injury.

His absence, however, hasn’t prevented him from being a focus of attention as the Celtics and Nets clashed twice in the space of three days.

Fans in Boston, still angered by Irving’s decision to depart for Brooklyn as a free agent after last season, scoffed at his absence as the Celtics beat the Nets 121-110 at TD Arena on Wednesday.

Their chants had sparked a social media reaction from Irving, who said the taunts “just shows how Sports/Entertainment will always be ignorant and obtrusive.”

On Friday, fans in Brooklyn voiced support as Irving, clad in street clothes, watched from the bench along with still-injured Kevin Durant as Spencer Dinwiddie scored 32 points and handed out a season-high 11 assists to lead the Nets to victory.

Dinwiddie, who had averaged 23.4 points in the previous seven games Irving had been sidelined, rebounded from a disappointing 5-of-19 shooting performance in Boston. He also added five rebounds with two steals and two blocked shots.

All five Brooklyn starters scored in double figures as the Nets improved to 6-2 without Irving.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 26 points. Kemba Walker — who scored 39 in Wednesday’s win — connected on six of 19 shots from the field on the way to 17 points — and found himself the target of Nets fans who changed “Kyrie’s better” when he stepped to the free-throw line.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens indicated that in his opinion, animosity over Irving’s free agent decision was misplaced.

“I think that him coming home (to Brooklyn) has been something that he wanted to do and he was a free agent,” Stevens said. “You get to make that choice and we can’t do anything but respect that and be happy for him.”

Stevens said that NBA fans should perhaps focus on the skills players showcase league-wide, rather than holding grudges.

“Sometimes, I think it’s good to take a step back and appreciate them for their greatness, whether it’s Kyrie or anybody else,” Stevens said.