Celtics storm back to top Nuggets, 105-87
It was a weekend of familiar sounds. The whoosh of a golf club at the Masters. The thud of a bodyslam at Wrestlemania. The crack of Red Sox bats as they launched baseballs out of Camden Yards. The clank of Celtics three-point attempts.
And yet, despite 7-for-33 shooting from deep and a 14-point deficit late in the third quarter, the Celtics went absolutely bonkers late to dispatch the Denver Nuggets, 105-87 on Sunday afternoon.
Denver came in winners of eight straight – seven of those wins coming with trade deadline acquisition Aaron Gordon in the lineup. By comparison, Evan Fournier, Boston’s deadline pickup, sat for the fourth consecutive contest in accordance with the league’s health and safety protocols.
The Nuggets didn’t seem to need star Jamal Murray (out with right knee soreness), as Nikola Jokic had a triple double by the third quarter and the Celtics couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. But they stayed the course, maintained defensive effort, and broke through when they had an opening.
Boston reeled off nine straight to close the third as Kemba Walker contributed to two defensive stops and had a couple of buckets (an and-one at the end of the period included) to knock the Denver lead down to five.
They took their first lead of the game in the fourth, ripping off a 31-3 run with Jayson Tatum scoring from multiple spots inside of the three-point stripe. Tatum finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds for the contest.
At one point, Boston’s defense had Jokic so frustrated that Denver coach Mike Malone stapled the MVP candidate to the bench, where he remained for the rest of the game. In all, it was a 40-8 for Boston to close out the win.
An 11-0 first quarter run got the Nuggets to a double digit lead that they retained for a 27-16 first quarter advantage. Jokic had five assists in the frame as the Green clanged away, just 1-for-9 from downtown, as they shot 25 percent in the opening 12 minutes.
Boston made a run in the second with Jokic on the bench, but when the big man returned to the floor, a 10-2 Denver run bumped the lead back to double digits. It was 51-45 at the half.
The win moves the Green to 28-26 on the season (11-16 on the road), just a game behind the Atlanta Hawks for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, tied with both the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat.
The Celtics continue their road trip in Portland on Tuesday night. The Blazers have played well (5-3) since acquiring Norman Powell at the deadline, with their only losses to the Bucks, Clippers and Jazz. Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Sean Sylver can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Talk baseball with him on Twitter @TheSylverFox.