New York Knicks at Boston Celtics preview for January 31

Feb 01, 2018, 00:55
New York Knicks at Boston Celtics preview for January 31

Irving led the C's with 27 points in a 111-110 win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night to close a hard road trip at 2-2.

Since Boston's 114-103 win over Philadelphia in London on November 21, the Celtics have lost five of last seven games. That should mean plenty of playing time for backup guard Terry Rozier, who is averaging 9.1 points per game off the Boston bench. No word on the severity of the injury or a timetable for Mason's return but he was having a productive game to that point with 16 points and eight boards. Kyrie Irving led the team with 27 points and six assists, Jayson Tatum added 20 points and four assists while Marcus Morris chipped in with 14 points off the bench. Over his last 10 games, he's putting up 17 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, and a block and a steal. "Will Barton has made plays like that before for us and I stand by that decision". Al Horford looked like he might have sealed the game when his 3-pointer at the top of the key as the shot clock expired pushed their advantage to 108-102, but Denver answered with a Harris 18-footer and a Lyles putback before Jamal Murray's game-tying jumper. The Nuggets got the defensive rebound following a missed basket by Irving with seven seconds left and they didn't call a timeout to advance ball, giving themselves a better chance to score the game victor.

"They put us in some tough spots and I thought our guys battled", said Boston coach Brad Stevens.

Boston blew a 20-point lead and needed a go-ahead three-pointer by Jaylen Brown with 34 seconds left to barely squeak by with the win. "We missed some good opportunities on offence".

Moments later, though, Al Horford fed Brown for the decisive 3.

Nikola Jokic paced the Nuggets with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. "If we have the same focus that we've had over the last three games, even though they haven't resulted everyone in a win, I feel we'll be in a great position to be successful". He became just the fifth player with 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and five-plus assists in a game this season, joining DeMarcus Cousins (four times), Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid and Russell Westbrook.

The Celtics beat Denver for the second time this season, also prevailing 124-118 on December 13.

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Irving scored 15 first-half points on 6-of-7 shooting as the Celtics held a 56-45 halftime lead.

Denver's starting center left the locker room on crutches and is not expected to play Tuesday at San Antonio. Joakim Noah, who left the team late in the trip over frustration with Hornacek, will not play.

"It's going to be really hard", Jokic said.

Elsewhere, Kent Bazemore scored 22 points, including a tiebreaking three-pointer with 2:09 remaining, and the Atlanta Hawks rallied after trailing by 11 in the third quarter to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-100.

Added Barton: "It's just building me up".

After going 3-2 on their five-game homestand, the Nuggets go back on the road to face the San Antonio Spurs (33-19), who predictably bounced back from their blowout defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers by taking care of the Sacramento Kings, 113-98.

Part of the problem is how much they rely on the three pointer.