Boston’s three game winning streak and post All Star game resurgence ended in Denver as sharp shooter J.R. Smith held off all Boston attempts to get close in the 4th quarter with 16 rally killing points after scoring only three points up to then.
Ditch Digging Again
The Celtics dug a first quarter hole as they allowed the Nuggets to score 37 points, a season high, and fell behind by 20.
The Beantown Ballers never led in this game, but they never gave up either. They slowly climbed the mile high mountain, tying it up at 66 all on a Marquis Daniels lay up with 4:57 left in the third. That ended up being their best punch of the night.
Denver went on a 10-2 run, including 6 straight points by Carmelo Anthony and were never really challenged again.
Ray Stays Hot
Boston was led by Ray Allen, who has continued his hot streak, with 25 points on 9 of 14 shooting in a game high 43:12 minutes. Ray added 5 rebounds (4 in the first half), 4 assists, a block, and 2 turnovers.
Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, and Marquis Daniels all tied for second with 15 points apiece.
Rondo added 11 assists, but had difficulty with the stronger Chauncey Billups. Rajon added 5 rebounds, 2 steals, a block and 4 turnovers in 37 plus minutes.
Chauncey Billups, who has been known to give Rajon Rondo trouble in the past, led all scorers with 26 points on 7 of 11 shooting, 10 for 10 from the free throw line, while adding 7 assists.
Pierce Still Not Right
Attacking the Celtics at their weak point from the get-go, they went right at a hobbled Paul Pierce in the first quarter with Carmelo Anthony, as he scored 10 points to lead the Nuggs. Pierce has a sprained thumb and is dealing with an infected knee, which has been noticeably slowing him down. They finally started doubling him up whenever he went to the post.
Carmelo scored 23 points to go with a season high 8 assists, as the Celtics had no one who could really handle him tonight.
Pierce made as good of a go as he could yesterday, but he could not hold the ball well to shoot.
Paul went 2 for 10 shooting with 1 of 4 on free throws and looked uncomfortable shooting all night. Pierce tried to make for the poor shooting by doing other things. He had 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 4 shot blocks including one each of Carmelo, Kenyon Martin and Chauncey Billups.
This game was a good heat check for the Celtics after they destroyed the Trailblazers in Portland on Friday. What the Celtics found out was that they haven’t gotten rid of their self defeating tendencies yet.
First Quarter a Killer
The first quarter lack of cohesion and energy probably cost them the game. Denver is a very talented and solid team who have the 3rd best home record in the NBA at 24-5 (after this game). Getting down by 20 was a bit too much to ask of the recovering Celtics to make up under those circumstances.
Green Fights Back
But with the score at 66-61, they tied it up in the third quarter behind a nice pass from KG to a cutting Ray Allen for a lay up and foul for the three point play to make it 66-64. Shortly after, Rajon Rondo rebounded a Ray Allen miss and ‘hook passed’ it to Marquis Daniels on the left block, who layed it in to tie the game at 66 all.
Marquis Daniels had probably his strongest game off the bench this year with a season high 15 points on 7 of 8 shooting with 6 rebounds.
Kendrick Perkins played well, but was in foul trouble for most of the game. He had 14 points on 7 of 10 shooting, with 4 rebounds in just 23 plus minutes.
Kevin Garnett played okay but was not dominant. He shot 7 of 13 with just 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal.
Glen Davis was active on the boards with 7 rebounds, 4 big ones on the offensive boards, adding 6 points in 17 minutes, but is still getting blocked too much (3 times).
Birdman Leads Block Party
The Celtics did an adequate job on the Denver starting bigs, but Chris ‘Birdman’ Anderson wreaked havoc on the Celtics in his 32 minutes. Anderson had 9 points, 6 rebounds and 4 big blocks in his 32 minutes.
The Celtics had 12 blocked shots led by Pierce’s 4, and 8 more swats were made by Denver.
Anderson’s energy and blocks caused the Celtics some problems in this game. After scoring on a fast break dunk, Birdman flapped his wings as he came back down court.
But it was Carmelo, Chauncey and J.R. that killed them overall. Smith ripped off 5 three pointers in the 4th period, and most were momentum stoppers or helped build up a big lead.
The Celtics had an outrageous 68 points in the paint to the Nuggets 48, but the Green Team could not hit the deep ones, going 2 for 13 from the arc.
Defense wasn’t all that good by either team as both teams shot over 50% percent and both scored well over 100 points. The Celtics had trouble with transition defense and that is why the Nuggets were able to get off many of those threes.
Denver is a confident team and with all the Celtic troubles since Christmas, top teams in the NBA feel that they can beat Boston even if the Celtics play well for portions of the game. Boston needs to fuel a run with 48 minutes of focus to overcome such teams.
The Celtics return home for a game on Tuesday against the Knicks. Nate Robinson, who the Celtics just received from the Knicks for Eddie House, will play that night against his former team.