Irving poured in 33, and Jaylen Brown added 26 to lead the Celtics to a 124-118 win over the feisty Denver Nuggets Wednesday night at the TD Garden. Larkin (14 points) came off the bench and made all six of his shots from the field—including a pair of threes—to lead a blazing 59.5 percent shooting performance from the Celtics, who withstood 36 points from Gary Harris and 28 from Jamal Murray.
"That was the only way we were going to win tonight, the way we were guarding and rebounding," Brad Stevens said afterward.
Indeed, the Celtics were obliterated on the glass, as Denver outrebounded Boston 48-30 and snatched 20 offensive rebounds. For a complete box score, click here.
Aron Baynes added 17 points, and Jayson Tatum chipped in with 15 for the Celtics, who improve to 24-6 on the season.
Playing without Horford and Morris, both of whom are dealing with knee issues, the scoring burden was back on the shoulders of Irving, who missed Monday's game with a quad issue. Brad Stevens indicated before the game that Horford would return for Friday's home game against Utah, while Morris is set to see a specialist as early as Thursday for a second opinion on his balky left knee.
Playing their second game of a back-to-back and the final game of a six-game road trip certainly didn't seem to affect the Nuggets early. Fresh from a double-digit win in Detroit Tuesday, Denver hit their first six shots from the floor and grabbed a 14-8 lead right out of the gate. It was a bit of a struggle for the Celtics early on, as they appeared to be suffering a bit of a hangover from Monday night's loss in Chicago. It showed on defense and on the glass.
Kenneth Faried had four offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone and powered the Nuggets to a 31-30 lead after the first quarter.
After a rough start in the first quarter, the second unit provided valuable momentum early in the second period. Shane Larkin, Daniel Theis and Terry Rozier provided a spark for a 14-3 run and a 44-36 lead. Larkin was key in the charge, hitting his first four shots and scoring nine points in seven minutes.
The second quarter was a much different story for the Celtics, as they outscored the Nuggets 38-28 to take a 68-59 halftime lead. The 38 points were the most the Celtics have scored in the second quarter this season.
The Celtics were rolling again, building their lead to 83-74. But then they fell asleep and allowed Denver to run off an 11-2 spurt to get right back in the game. The Nuggets drove to the basket at will throughout the third quarter, as Boston allowed 33 points and watched their lead trimmed to five, 97-92, heading into the fourth. The 92 points were a season-high mark allowed by the Celtics through three quarters.
Larkin hit his second three of the night in the fourth quarter to put the Celtics up, 100-94. His steal and layup made it 104-94 with 9.5 minutes left. Gary Harris kept the Nuggets close in the final moments with hot shooting from beyond the arc, but in the end it was not enough to keep Denver from finishing their six-game trip with a 2-4 mark.