Fresh off a heartbreaking loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night, the Boston Celtics came out swinging Monday night in Denver.
The C’s jumped out to an early 18-point lead at Pepsi Center, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the hot hand of Nuggets star Jamal Murray. The Kentucky product’s early barrage erased Boston’s big lead, and then he took over in the fourth quarter.
With the game hanging in the balance, Murray scored 19 of his career-high 48 points in the fourth to give the Nuggets a 115-107 win over the Celtics.
Kyrie Irving led Boston with 31 points, while Jaylen Brown (15 points), Jayson Tatum (15 points) and Al Horford (12 points) also scored in double figures.
With the loss, the Celtics fell to 6-4, while the Nuggets improved to 9-1.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
F: Jayson Tatum
F: Gordon Hayward
C: Al Horford
The Celtics came out of the gate hot, as Brown scored five early points to help Boston take a 10-2 lead and force a Denver timeout. The stoppage didn’t do Mike Malone’s club a lot of good, as the C’s defense made life hard for the Nuggets, helping Boston jump out to a 27-14 lead with 4:17 left in the first quarter.
The two teams traded buckets for the remainder of the quarter, as Boston took a 34-19 edge into the second quarter.
Irving and Brown paced the Celtics with seven points apiece, while Murray led all scorers with 14.
HERE COME THE NUGS
The Nuggets came alive to open the second stanza, going on a quick 9-0 run capped by a Mason Plumlee slam to make it 34-28.
Boston was able to hold off the Nuggets’ charge for a bit, as a Terry Rozier triple and an Irving jumper helped put the lead back to 10 with just under six minutes to play. But Murray started heating up the end of the frame. The sharpshooting guard helped fuel an 11-3 run with seven points of his own to cut Boston’s lead to 49-46 and force a timeout with 2:20 to play.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Gary Harris and a Paul Millsap 3-pointer gave Denver a one-point advantage, but Irving drilled a triple of his own before the buzzer sounded to give the C’s a 56-54 lead at the break.
Murray was the high man with 23 points at the half, while Irving led Boston with 16.
The game quickly turned from Nuggets vs. Celtics to Irving vs. Murray in the third quarter, as the two star players exchanged blows throughout the first half of the stanza.
An Irving offensive rebound and putback gave the C’s a two-point edge, but Murray responded by driving into the paint and kicking out to a wide-open Juan Hernangomez who splashed a triple to give the Nuggets the lead.
The Celtics took a two-point lead with 3:23 to play in the third, but Denver responded with an 11-2 run, capped by a Murray jumper, to take an 88-81 lead into the fourth.
Murray continued to be the high man with 29, while Irving paced Boston with 26 through three.
The Nuggets maintained their lead early in the fourth, but Irving quickly cut into it after returning to the court following a brief breather. The star guard got into the lane and found Horford for a layup and then buried a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one and force Denver to take a timeout.
Denver’s lead remained at two with 7:24 to play, but Murray splashed back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead to 102-94.
The Murray showed continued for the remainder of the frame, as the Celtics had no defender that could stop the electric guard from taking over. Murray did whatever he wanted in the final quarter, scoring 19 points to give the Nuggets the win.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Don’t hurt the rim, rookie.
The Celtics will continue their road trip Thursday when they visit the Phoenix Suns. Tip-off from Talking Stick Resort Arena is set for 9 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports Images
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