It wasn’t pretty, but we doubt the Boston Celtics care.
Two days after getting blown out by the Chicago Bulls, the C’s responded by outdueling the Denver Nuggets in a 124-118 shootout at TD Garden.
Boston’s defense, which was without lynchpin Al Horford who sat out for rest, gave up a number of easy looks to the shorthanded Nuggets. Denver shot 50 percent from the floor, but the Celtics hit on 59.5 percent of their shots and Kyrie Irving scored 33 points to hold off the young Nuggets.
Jaylen Brown (26 points), Aron Baynes (17 points), Jayson Tatum (15 points) and Shane Larkin (14 points) all scored in double figures in the win.
The Celtics improved to 24-6 with the win, while the Nuggets fell to 15-13.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C; Aron Baynes
Despite playing their sixth game in nine days, the Nuggets hit their first six shots of the game to take a 14-8 lead, causing Brad Stevens to take an early timeout.
Boston responded with a 22-14 run to take a two-point lead late in the first quarter, but Denver closed the stanza with three free throws to hold a 31-30 edge heading into the second quarter.
The two squads continued to be locked in a tight contest in the second quarter.
Brown, Tatum and Larkin opened the game by going a combined 10-for-10 from the floor to give the C’s a 55-45 edge midway through the quarter. Denver chipped away at the lead in the final five minutes of the frame, but Irving and Brown were able to keep it at arm’s length, helping Boston take a 68-59 lead into the break.
The C’s scored 38 points in the second quarter, their highest-scoring quarter of the season.
Irving led the C’s with 15 points, while Brown added 13 and Baynes chipped in with 12. Garry Harris led the Nuggets with 15 points of his own.
DENVER HANGS AROUND
Boston was unable to put the Nuggets away in the third quarter.
Denver went on an 11-2 run midway through the frame to tie the game at 85, but Brown, as he had done all night, knocked down a huge 3-pointer to stem the tide. Brown’s trey was followed shortly thereafter by an old-fashioned three-point play from Tatum to give Boston a six-point edge.
The C’s maintained their advantage for the remainder of the third, taking a 97-92 lead into the final frame.
The Celtics opened the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run thanks to Larkin and Tatum.
Denver got the first bucket of the fourth, but Larkin drilled a 3-pointer and Tatum followed with a silky pull-up J of his own. Larkin knocked down a deuce on the next trip, and two Daniel Theis free throws gave Boston a 12-point lead.
Denver cut the lead to six with under a minute to play thanks to a career-high 32 points from Harris, but Brown drilled a 3-pointer with 43 seconds left to seal the win.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Don’t hurt them, Jaylen.
Boston takes the floor again Friday when they host the Utah Jazz. Tip-off from TD Garden is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
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