This one seemed out of reach for a while, but the Celtics made it interesting down the stretch.
A 22-3 run in the fourth quarter gave Boston the boost it needed to top the mighty Denver Nuggets 105-87 at Pepsi Center.
The Nuggets entered Sunday’s contest as winners of eight straight games, but the C’s wound up extending their own win streak to three games while handing Denver its first loss since March 24 against the Toronto Raptors.
Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 28 points and his 10 rebounds were followed by Robert Williams and Jaylen Brown, who had eight apiece.
Despite the loss, Nikola Jokic (17 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) recorded a triple-double for the Nuggets.
The Celtics improved to 28-26 while the Nuggets fell to 34-19.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Robert Williams
Once again, it took the Celtics a little while to wake up.
Brown, Tatum and Williams were a combined 0-for-9 from the field in the first 12 minutes, though Williams did have four rebounds. Smart and Walker were the only two starters to record points, and they only had four apiece on 3-of-8 shooting.
Tristan Thompson (five points, three rebounds) and Romeo Langford (three points, three rebounds) offered a little help off the bench, but not much. Boston completed a measly 24% of its shots in the first.
Naturally, Denver capitalized on this and built itself an 11-point lead. The Nuggets were much more accurate, collecting 27 points on 11-of-23 (47.8%) shots.
THAT’S BETTER (FOR NOW)
The second wasn’t perfect, but it certainly was better than the first.
Tatum finally found some rhythm and collected 11 points, four rebounds and an assist. Tatum and Smart had a team-high 11 points apiece at the end of the frame.
Smart sank Boston’s only two 3-pointers of the half despite 17 attempts.
Michael Porter Jr. led all scorers with 13.
Celtics starters combined for 27 of Boston’s 29 second-quarter points and, interestingly enough, scored all but 10 of the team’s 45 first-half points. Boston’s shooting improved somewhat as a whole to 34.9%, and the C’s closed the gap to six points before halftime.
Denver took a 51-45 lead into the second half.
NO QUIT IN BOSTON
The Nuggets remained in the driver’s seat for most of the third.
Jokic finally found his footing after scoring just three points on 1-of-5 shooting in the first half. He finished the third with 14 additional points on 5-of-7 shooting (71.4%) and was one rebound shy of a triple-double.
Denver’s lead hovered around 12 for most of the quarter, but Boston trimmed it to five thanks to some quick work by Brown and Walker in the final two minutes.
And just like that, it was a 79-74 game.
The Celtics entered the final frame on a 9-0 run.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
It was all downhill from there for Denver.
Boston went on a 22-3 run in the first half of the final frame, courtesy of some stellar stuff from Tatum and Brown. That’s a 31-3 run since the 1:31 mark of the third quarter.
That’s really all the Celtics needed to extend their win streak to three games and snap the Nuggets’ at eight. Boston finished shooting 44.8% from the field, though only 21.3% of their attempted triples were successful.
Denver’s shooting, meanwhile, dipped to 36.4% by the end of the game.
And with that, the Celtics beat the Nuggets 105-87.
PLAY OF THE GAME
More of this, please.
The Celtics are off to Portland, where they will play the Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Tip-off is slated for 10 p.m. ET.