The Boston Celtics put together a far superior effort in claiming a 112-99 win over the Denver Nuggets at TD Garden on Tuesday.
It snapped a two-game losing streak, and hopefully with put an end to a brutal stretch which included 10 losses in 15 contests.
The Celtics did it on both ends of the floor. Boston shared the basketball at a much higher clip (26 assists), received 23 first-half points from its bench all while putting forth a defensive intensity that had been lacking over the last week. It is perhaps best depicted as the Nuggets were held well below their 115.5 point-per-game average.
Jaylen Brown hit some clutch shots in the second half and led Boston with a team-high 27 points on 11-for-20 from the field. Jayson Tatum didn’t have his best night from the floor (6-for-18), but finished with 21 points while Kemba Walker added 17 points on 5-for-13 from the floor.
Denver’s Nikola Jokic was absolutely incredible. He finished with 43 points on 16-for-23 from the field.
Boston moved to 14-13 on the season while Denver fell to 15-12.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Semi Ojeleye
C: Tristan Thompson
Center Daniel Theis missed Tuesday’s game with a right index finger strain prompting Thompson to start.
A BETTER START
Jokic scored 15 first-quarter points on 6-for-6 from the field, but it was Boston that showcased defensive intensity and ball movement (seven assists) in taking a 30-26 lead after the opening period.
Walker scored nine first-quarter points on 3-for-6 from the floor, and Brown, who did’t take a shot for the opening seven minutes, finished the frame with seven.
Aaron Nesmith was the first player off the bench for Boston and made his impact count. He made a great chase-down block which led to Brown 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, and hit a catch-and-shoot jumper of his own.
Thompson (four points) made a handful of early contributions while playing good defense on Jokic, who made a few challenging shots.
Both Denver and Boston finished the quarter shooting 50% from the field (10-for-20). The Celtics forced five Nuggets turnovers on the defensive end, as well.
STILL IN FRONT
The Celtics opened the second quarter with a mini 5-0 stretch and went on to take as large as a 15-point lead, 48-33, midway through the quarter.
Denver, though, came racing back to cut Boston’s advantage to 59-54 at the half.
Boston shared the ball well (14 first-half assists matched Sunday’s total) and received 23 points — Nesmith (7), Robert Williams (6), Payton Pritchard and Javonte Green with 5 each — from its bench. Boston’s bench outscored Denver 23-6 in the half.
The usual suspects like Walker (12 points), Brown (11) and Tatum (9) all were impactful as well.
Jokic, though, continued his scorching start. The Nuggets unicorn of a big man scored 27 first-half points on 10-for-12 from the field including 3-for-3 from long range.
There were a number of Celtics highlights including this steal and transition dunk by Green:
And a thunderous alley-oop from Pritchard to Robert Williams at the onset of the quarter:
Boston shot 21-for-43 including 8-for-25 from long range in the first half. It did, however, have nine turnovers as a team, including a stretch which allowed Denver to cut into that major deficit.
The Nuggets shot 20-for-40 from the field and 7-for-17 from beyond the arc. The Celtics forced eight first-half turnovers.
ENDING ON A RUN
Brown and Tatum helped Boston eluded the third quarter on a 12-2 run while the Celtics hit five third-quarter 3-pointers in taking a 86-75 lead. Brown scored 11 points in the period while Tatum added six.
Ojeleye, after going 0-4 from the field in the first half, scored eight points with a pair of 3-pointers.
Walker walked off the floor with 9:34 left in the third with what appeared to be a neck/shoulder injury after taking a hard screen. He immediately returned.
Jokic climbed his total to 39 points on 14-for-17 from the floor. He added a few more incredibly difficult makes against good Boston defense.
Boston shot 50% from the floor after three quarters and 13-for-33 from 3-point range. The C’s had four turnovers in the third quarter.
CLOSING IT OUT
Brown connected on a pair of 3-pointers in the quarter, the second of which gave the Celtics a 101-88 lead with 4:35 left in the game.
The C’s got fourth-quarter scoring contributions from Robert Williams and Pritchard, along with Tatum, Walker and Brown to help pull away.
Some end of game stats: Boston shot 48% from the floor (39-for-81) and just shy of 36% from long range (15-42). It did have more turnovers than Denver, 22-17.
Denver shot 45 percent from the floor (38-for-84) and 26 percent from 3-point range (9-for-34).
PLAY(S) OF THE GAME
We couldn’t decide on one.
The Celtics return to TD Garden on Wednesday for the second game of a back-to-back against the Atlanta Hawks.