Celtics Live Blog: Lack of Bench Help Catches Up to C’s in Fourth Quarter as Nuggets Take Win in Denver

Celtics Live Blog: Lack of Bench Help Catches Up to C's in Fourth Quarter as Nuggets Take Win in DenverFinal: Nuggets 89, Celtics 75. Can you really blame the Celtics for coming up short in this one?

The Celtics’ most emotional day of the season ends with a fourth-quarter collapse in Denver. Rather predictable, really — these C’s are depressed, they’re demoralized, and they’re exhausted from all the minutes.

Kenyon Martin leads the way for the Nuggets with 18 points and 10 rebounds, outdueling the 14 points and 13 boards of Boston’s Kevin Garnett. The Nuggets give the better fourth quarter effort, and they get the win.

The Celtics are moving on to Los Angeles, where they play the Clippers on Saturday night. By then they’ll have added at least two players, as Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic are on the way from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Perhaps more than two — the C’s will be closely monitoring the buyout situation over the coming days.

Fourth quarter, 2:01, Nuggets 84-75: Arron Afflalo just ruined the Celtics’ night. First one running jumper, then a transition bucket and a foul from Pierce. Five points in 23 seconds.

The Celtics are toast.

Fourth quarter, 3:03, Nuggets 78-75: Basket and the foul for Kenyon Martin.

But why is he celebrating like he just won the Finals? Relax, man. There’s still plenty of work left to be done.

Fourth quarter, 4:14, Nuggets 76-75: Of course, the Nuggets answer right back. Wilson Chandler matches Paul Pierce’s 3 with a 3 of his own; just like that, Denver is back in front.

Chandler has 16 points off the bench in his first game as a Nugget. Not bad.

Fourth quarter, 6:05, Celtics 75-73: Paul Pierce just hit a huge, huge 3 to put the Celtics back in front.

But the biggest reason the C’s have hung around in this fourth quarter isn’t the captain — it’s Delonte West, who’s poured in eight of his 10 points in the fourth.

The C’s now need to string a few stops together, which is much easier said than done. They’ve got to be exhausted. Rajon Rondo has now played 38 minutes, and Kevin Garnett 35. They’ve got six big ones to go.

Fourth quarter, 8:41, Celtics 70-68: Delonte West just drew a foul from J.R. Smith. He’s headed to the line for three big ones.

West has had a slow start to his comeback from the wrist injury, at least offensively. He was 0-for-4 from the field on Tuesday night, and he’s 3-for-8 now.

Fourth quarter, 10:08, Celtics 66-63: The Celtics rattle off a 6-2 run to open the quarter, including a smooth jumper from Kevin Garnett. KG now has 14 points and 12 boards.

What a streaky basketball game. Whoever will put together the last 6-2 run of the night will probably win it.

End of third quarter, Nuggets 61-60: The back and forth continues. The Nuggets are back in front, as they close the third quarter with an 8-2 run. Chris Andersen caps it off with a pair of free throws.

Rajon Rondo has already played 32 minutes; Glen Davis has played 30. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Doc Rivers leave them both out there for the full fourth quarter.

This is one tough, grinding basketball game. Let’s see if the C’s can survive it.

Third quarter, 3:13, 53-53: The Nuggets are making their charge. First Nene throws down a one-handed slam and does a 360 while hanging on the rim; then Ray Felton knocks down a floater in the lane. Stylish buckets, although Nene is probably regretting the technical foul for showing up the Celtics.

Doc Rivers doesn’t look too happy. His goal was to control the tempo of the second half, and he hasn’t done that well. The Nuggets are running, gunning and scoring.

Third quarter, 4:32, Celtics 51-48: Kenyon Martin just heaved Kevin Garnett out of the bounds, and KG doesn’t get the flagrant foul call he was looking for. But rather than get mad, the C’s get even. Paul Pierce slashes and scores.

After all the emotions the Celtics have been through today, it’s a miracle KG didn’t instigate an all-out brawl there.

Third quarter, 5:13, Nuggets 48-47: Danilo Gallinari just scored the first points of his career as a Nugget. And wow, they were two big ones.

Gallinari just posterized Ray Allen with a monster slam in transition. The Nuggets have the lead, their bench is fired up, and their crowd has come to life. That might have been just the jolt the Nuggets needed.

Third quarter, 7:03, Nuggets 43-42: Ty Lawson just got going in transition and made a brilliant pass to Arron Afflalo for a running layup. Now it’s the Nuggets’ turn to reclaim the lead with a 6-2 lead.

Lawson is amazing to watch in transition — he’s fast, he’s explosive, and he makes daring plays. That pass was something else.

Third quarter, 8:42, Celtics 42-39: Rajon Rondo just made a brilliant running pass in the lane, finding Glen Davis open for a layup. He’s quietly having a stellar game.

The Celtics have opened the second half on a 6-2 run. Maybe their offense has risen from the dead.

Third quarter, 10:41, Celtics 38-37: Paul Pierce missed a lot of the first half due to foul trouble, but he’s back with a vengeance to start the second. The captain gets a steal followed by a bucket.

Pierce has to step up in the second half. The C’s aren’t going to win this game without him.

Halftime, Nuggets 37-36: Given everything they’ve been through in the last 24 hours, they can’t be too disappointed with a one-point halftime deficit on the road against the Nuggets.

Playing with a nine-man rotation including two untested rookies, the C’s are doing their best. It hasn’t been easy.

Nene leads the Nuggets with nine points, three rebounds and a block; for the Celtics, Kevin Garnett has eight points, nine boards, three assists and two blocks to keep them competitive.

The key for Boston is simple — keep this game at a snail’s pace. Don’t let the Nuggets win a track meet. The C’s can win this thing if they control the pace and play their game.

Second quarter, 2:54, 32-32: Kevin Garnett knows how to step up when he’s needed most. He’s having a monster first half for the C’s — eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

KG and Glen Davis have each played 17 of the game’s first 21 minutes. They’re surviving so far, but the fourth quarter is going to be a serious grind.

Doc needs Chris Johnson to give him as many quality minutes as possible.

Second quarter, 4:16, 30-30: The Celtics have only seven points in the second quarter. That can’t be good.

Glen Davis has come out of the game, and Chris Johnson is back in. Big Baby looks seriously winded. This is a tough night for him — he was expected to have Semih Erden and Luke Harangody backing him up, and instead he’s got just the rookie behind him on the depth chart.

Second quarter, 5:59, 27-27: Bad news for the Celtics — Paul Pierce picks up three fouls early in the second quarter. This is probably the absolute worst game all year for Pierce to get into foul trouble, too.

Ray Allen has two as well. Doc is sticking with a wing duo of Ray and Von Wafer, because, well, he doesn’t have a choice.

This could get really bad if the C’s aren’t careful. They have to play smart.

Second quarter, 8:22, Celtics 26-23: Wilson Chandler just out-Paul Pierced Paul Pierce, making a jumper and throwing his body into the Celtics’ captain. Nice play.

The former Knick has quickly made himself a key cog in the Nuggets’ bench. He’s got five points early, and he looks comfortable in his role.

Second quarter, 10:11, Celtics 23-19: Chris Andersen gets to the free-throw line and hits one of two shots. That’s the only point of the first quarter for either team.

Here’s an alarming stat for the Celtics offensively: Delonte West has yet to make a shot since returning from his wrist injury. He’s 0-for-6.

The C’s need to get some kind of scoring punch from their few bench guys — if not West, then Von Wafer or Chris Johnson. The starters can’t win this game alone.

End of first quarter, Celtics 23-18: The Celtics’ first quarter of the post-Kendrick Perkins era is underway, and it wasn’t half bad. The C’s have themselves an early lead after one, thanks in no small part to Perk’s temporarily replacement, Chris Johnson.

The rookie from LSU gives the Celtics four points and two blocks off the bench, and the C’s are out in front. Kevin Garnett pours in six points, and Rajon Rondo adds four.

The Nuggets have had a dreadful shooting night so far, making only eight of 25 shots. Nene has five points to lead the home team.

First quarter, 3:24, 15-15: Chris Johnson is about to make his Celtic debut, subbing in for former LSU Tiger Glen Davis.

What a bizarre day today has been. Did anyone wake up this morning expecting to see Chris Johnson play for the Celtics in the first quarter?

As long as Johnson is serviceable, not making any huge mistakes, he’ll be good enough. The rookie big man is just a one-game fill-in.

First quarter, 4:31, Celtics 15-11: Kevin Garnett is hitting jumpers early. That’s good to see. He’s had a hot shooting week, and it’s not stopping anytime soon.

KG continues to play the power forward, with Glen Davis at center. KG is better offensively as a forward, since he can knock down that elbow jumper all day.

First quarter, 6:52, Celtics 11-7: Apparently Glen Davis is the new Perk. The Celtics’ big man just got really fired up after drawing a foul from Danilo Gallinari.

Big Baby can deliver a big scowl. The C’s might need that tenacity now without their old enforcer gone.

They also need Baby’s free-throw shooting. He just drained two.

First quarter, 8:28, Celtics 5-4: Paul Pierce knocks down a wing 3 to give the Celtics their first lead.

The Celtics are going to need a big night from the captain. For the moment, he’s still without a backup as the C’s wait on Jeff Green to join the club.

First quarter, 10:27, Nuggets 2-0: We’re underway, and Arron Afflalo knocks down a short jumper to put the Nuggets on the board first.

The Celtics are going to be hard-pressed to keep the Nuggets out of the paint with Kendrick Perkins gone. But on the bright side, the Nuggets are without their old leading scorer in Carmelo Anthony, so perhaps the two losses will cancel out.

Both teams are still figuring things out post-deadline, that’s for sure.

9:45 p.m.: The Celtics won’t be completely depleted up front — they’re expecting to have D-Leaguer Chris Johnson join them Thursday night on a 10-day contract.

Johnson might have to play 35 minutes right away. He’s the only backup big man the Celtics have.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Luckily, this is just a quick fix, as Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green should join the team later in the road trip.

6:30 p.m.: The Celtics already knew they’d be without Kendrick Perkins on Thursday night, when they took on the Nuggets. But they didn’t know they’d be quite this shorthanded.

Perkins is gone for good — so, too, are Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Semih Erden and Luke Harangody. The C’s have just 12 players left, and two are injured while two more are still en route from Oklahoma City.

The C’s are now down to just eight guys. They’ve got a starting five, which will include Glen Davis with Perk and Semih gone, and they’ve got three guards. That’s it. Delonte West, Von Wafer and Avery Bradley make up Boston’s entire bench.

Will Big Baby play all 48 minutes? He might have to.

8 a.m.: West Coast road trips are hard enough. They only get tougher when you’re without your starting center, plus two of his backups.

The Celtics head to Denver for the second stop of their four-city western tour on Thursday night, and they’ll be taking on the host Nuggets without Kendrick Perkins. The absence of Perkins, who strained his left MCL against the Warriors on Tuesday, coupled with the missing Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal, leaves the Celtics extremely thin up front.

As usual.

This is nothing new — the C’s have been battling frontcourt injuries all season, and this latest development is just par for the course. The C’s will once again look to Semih Erden to jump into the starting five and contribute, while Glen Davis will see plenty of minutes at center off the bench.

The C’s welcomed both Erden and Delonte West back into the fold on Tuesday night, as they beat the Warriors in their first game back from All-Star weekend. But the injury news is never uniformly good for the Celtics. They just aren’t that lucky. Perkins bumped knees with the Warriors’ Stephen Curry while setting a screen early in the third quarter — he originally thought it was just a small bruise, but now the problem looks worse.

The C’s take on the Nuggets first, then the Clippers on Saturday night, then the Jazz on Monday. They’ll be without Perk for all three contests. Luckily, they’ve been winning ball games without the big fella all season long.

The C’s tip off with the new-look Nuggets at 10:30 on Thursday night.

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