The Celtics gave up a season-high 129 points and suffered their largest margin of defeat at 31 points, and it was exactly as ugly as it sounds — probably more. The Nugs shot 51 percent overall and 45 percent from three-point range while outrebounding the Celtics 56-35.
What can’t be captured by the statistics is how little effort the Celtics expended. It was an embarrassing display. Jeff Green led the Celtics with 17 points but he was one of the worst culprits in a listless game. A few of the reserves, like Keith Bogans, did actually try. Bogans came through with nine points.
Jerryd Bayless made his Celtics debut and was 3-for-11 from the field for six points.
Fourth quarter, 2:38, Nuggets 120-91: If you’re curious about a shortage of updates, you’re welcome. There is nothing worthwhile to know about this game other than it is the worst effort by far put forth by the Celtics this season. Just dreadful.
The Nuggets are shooting 13-for-29 from beyond the arc, simply because they can. Every Nuggets starter has scored in double figures, led by Randy Foye with 23 points.
Fourth quarter, 8:07, Nuggets 105-81: Vitor Faverani is getting a lot of minutes tonight. Make whatever you want of that.
We haven’t seen much of Brandon Bass since he scored 15 points and nabbed seven rebounds. Instead, Brad Stevens has gone with Faverani and Kelly Olynyk, who is 1-for-4 from the field with four fouls and three turnovers.
Again, make whatever you want of that. We won’t say the four-letter word that rhymes with “bank,” but you’re probably thinking the same thing.
End of third quarter, Nuggets 103-78: Gerald Wallace and Keith Bogans are setting themselves apart from their teammates by actually, you know, trying.
Wallace has four points, four rebounds and has done lots of little things that don’t show up in the box score, like setting hard screens. Bogans, finally freed from the bench, has just decided to not miss, which is a solid strategy.
Bogans knocks down a pair of technical free throws after Denver coach Brian Shaw was ejected for arguing a call, then drained a couple of 3-pointers. Yes, you read that right; Denver’s coach got tossed for arguing a call while his team was ahead by 28 points.
Shaw was once considered a bright, young rising mind in the coaching ranks. It’s probably safe to say we were all wrong.
Third quarter, 5:53, Nuggets 89-59: How the Celtics bounce back from this will be a true test for coach Brad Stevens. This is a terrible display by his team. The lack of effort and professionalism by the players is unforgivable, no matter what the standings say.
It’s tough to work up a lather for a game in Denver on the first leg of a back-to-back, but come on. If you’re still watching this game … why?
Third quarter, 8:43, Nuggets 78-51: Jared Sullinger is headed for an early shower.
Sullinger picked up a questionable flagrant-one for blocking J.J. Hickson, who toppled to the ground due to being off-balance more than anything. A couple of possessions later, Sullinger picked up an actual flagrant-one for leading with his elbow and connecting with Kenneth Faried’s head while clearing space for a shot in the post.
Both were reviewed and both were upheld, so Sullinger is gone.
This is the problem with calling flagrants way too tightly. When a false one gets called early, the referees are forced to toss a player when he commits a real one later on.
Halftime, Nuggets 68-45: Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford have not clicked lately like they did for most of the first two months of the season. They’re off to another shaky start.
The Celtics’ starting backcourt is 2-for-12 from the field for four points, while Randy Foye and Ty Lawson have 26 combined points on 5-for-9 shooting. Foye must smell bad or something, because nobody ever wants to guard that guy. He keeps getting open even though he’s basically a standstill 3-point shooter, and he makes defenses pay. He’s 4-for-7 from beyond the arc tonight.
The Nuggets are known for playing fast, but the Celtics have actually taken more shots 49-43. The Nuggets play too fast for their own good sometimes — they have committed 12 turnovers — but their ability to get layups or 3-pointers, the most efficient shots in the game, is deadly to an unsure squad like the Celtics. The Nuggets are 10-for-18 on threes.
Second quarter, 2:10, Nuggets, 61-45: Brandon Bass is using his heft against Denver’s front line to keep this game from getting completely out of hand, but nothing the Celtics do on offense will matter much until they start defending the arc.
The Nuggets finally missed a couple, but they were all wide-open looks. Randy Foye, who set Utah’s single-season 3-pointer record last season, just keeps getting free outside somehow. This time he sneaks into the corner to drop his fourth three of the game to stretch Denver’s lead back to 16 points.
Second quarter, 5:51, Nuggets 52-35: Randy Foye and Evan Fournier are hot from deep, and the Nuggets are 8-for-13 from long range as a group, but Denver’s hot shooting alone can’t be credited with this lead. The Celtics have something to do with it, too.
The Celtics, typically a decent team defending the arc, haven’t made much attempt to get out on the Nuggets shooters tonight. Foye is 3-for-5, Fournier is 2-for-2 and Nate Robinson is now 1-for-1 after pulling up on the wing for a triple on a two-on-one break.
It’s never good to be down by a lot early in Denver, where the elevation gradually gets to every team and makes it more and more difficult to come back. A deficit now could balloon to something unmanageable in the second half.
Second quarter, 8:53, Nuggets 39-25: It’s already clear that Jerryd Bayless brings a little different element than Courtney Lee did. Bayless is not the shooter or defender Lee is, but he’s a better ballhandler and so can spend some time spelling Jordan Crawford at the point.
Bayless has run the Celtics’ offense effectively for six minutes, getting them open shots, just not shots they can hit. He hit Gerald Wallace with a nice bounce pass on the break to get an easy basket for Wallace.
End of first quarter, Nuggets 31-23: Jerryd Bayless has his first bucket as a Celtic with a jumper to end the first quarter. Other than that, the first frame ended on another down note for the Celts.
Kelly Olynyk snapped a 9-0 Nuggets run with a pair of free throws as the Nuggets answered Jeff Green’s mini-run and then some. Denver is rolling along at a 55-percent shooting pace and is 4-for-8 from downtown.
The Celtics, meanwhile, are misfiring on both shots and passes. They were 9-for-26 from the field and committed eight turnovers in the first quarter. As lazily as they played at times, they probably deserve to have a larger deficit than just eight points.
First quarter, 2:56, Nuggets 22-19: Jeff Green is having one of his good starts. That probably doesn’t bode well for his game-long performance, but it is enough for the Celtics to bounce back from their atrocious opening to this game.
Green has 11 points in nine minutes as the Celtics have used a 10-2 run to pull within three. Jerryd Bayless checked in to make his Celtics debut, running the point with Vitor Faverani, Kelly Olynyk, Gerald Wallace and Green.
This lineup could probably be dubbed the All-Tank group. Maybe that’s the way for the Celtics to go, since their best player, Jared Sullinger, just went to the bench clutching his hand after drawing an offensive foul on Wilson Chandler
First quarter, 6:03, Nuggets 20-9: At sixth place in the NBA in pace, the Nuggets play fast and can score in bunches. It would be nice if the Celtics provided some resistance, though.
Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler and the Nugs are running wild early, with Foye and Chandler tied for the team’s high with six points apiece. The Nuggets are shooting 53 percent from the field and Foye already has a pair of 3-pointers.
The Celtics are flat-out playing lazy early. When they’re not committing turnovers — which they have, four times — the ball is getting knocked out of their hands and they have yet to set a single box-out. Avery Bradley tossed a horrible pass straight out of bounds and appeared to blame Brandon Bass for failing to roll to the hoop.
That wasn’t a failure to roll by Bass. It was just a terrible pass. If that’s an indication of the team’s mood, it’s not only going to be a long night — it’s going to be a long season.
8:02 p.m.: This game could be just what the struggling Celtics needed or more of the same. It all depends on whether the Nuggets bring their “A” game.
Few teams are as unpredictable as the Nuggets, who swing back and fourth between being seemingly unbeatable and very, very beatable. They’re also without JaVale McGee and Danilo Gallinari, key cogs in last year’s impressive run who have missed significant times with injuries.
Point guard Andre Miller, who has rightfully called out coach Brian Shaw for acting as though he has no idea what he is doing, has been away from the team for personal reasons.
The Celtics will be shorthanded as well. Kris Humphries is out with a sprained ankle, leaving the Celtics without their best reserve big man. But the Nuggets don’t have a low-post behemoth to worry about, so if there is any opponent the Celtics can afford to be missing Humphries against, it’s Denver.
The projected starters appear below.
6 p.m. ET: The Jerryd Bayless era begins tonight.
OK, so maybe it’s not much of an “era.” The journeyman guard came to the Boston Celtics via a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies for Courtney Lee, as part of a deal that only became final Tuesday morning. Bayless is no star, but he does bring needed ballhandling ability and a reputation as a streaky shooter to the Celtics’ backcourt.
Of course, the Celtics (13-21) already have a guard who fits that description a bit in Jordan Crawford, but with Bayless on board, Boston won’t have to lean as heavily on the up-and-down Crawford.
The Denver Nuggets (16-17) represent the Celtics’ best chance at a victory on this daunting five-game road trip. The problem is, it’s anybody’s guess which Denver team shows up — the one that won seven in a row earlier in the season or the one that recently lost eight straight. They’ve now won two in a row, which either means they’re headed for another long winning streak or they’re due for a loss.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 9 p.m. ET.