Final: Celtics 113, Nuggets 99: You think Paul Pierce gets a little geeked up to play against Carmelo Anthony?
A confident Pierce poured in 27 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Celtics past the Nuggets, 113-99, tonight at TD Garden. Anthony may have scored 32 points himself, but Pierce harassed the superstar, seven years his younger, into difficult shots all night. Anthony was 9 of 23 from the floor.
Rajon Rondo recorded a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 15 assists in the win.
It was just two weeks ago tonight, after a 111-91 loss to Memphis, that Pierce reminded everyone that yes, the Celtics needed to defend better, but they needed to score the ball better as well. A team with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rasheed Wallace, Rondo, and himself, should not struggle to score.
The Celtics had no trouble scoring tonight against Denver. Boston shot 62 percent from the field in the first quarter and finished the game at 49 percent. Even when the Nuggets were mounting runs, the Celtics found an answer on the offensive end. Denver cut the lead to seven points at the end of the third quarter, but a 14-7 run by the Celtics to start the fourth effectively put the game out of reach.
For the Celtics, a win over one of the top teams in the Western Conference provides affirmation that, when healthy, they really can beat just about anyone. Garnett, who looked lost just a month ago, had a deadly quiet 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists.
A previously maligned Celtics bench produces a new x-factor every night, and tonight's, Tony Allen, seemed to come out of nowhere. Less than an hour after Doc Rivers said Allen had not done enough to earn playing time, foul trouble forced Rivers to put Allen onto the floor. The shooting guard responded with 13 points and killer defense.
The Celtics continue their homestand Friday night against the Kings. Just two weeks after searching for answers at TD Garden, it looks as if the home team has finally found some.
6:46 4th quarter, Celtics 104-87: Paul Pierce drives to the hoop and is fouled my Joey Grahm. Three-point play gives the Celtics soem cushion.
7:24 4th quarter, Celtics 101-87: J.R. Smith called for a technical foul. Not. Smart.
9:26 4th quarter, Celtics 94-85: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett check back into the game. Pierce checks in for Tony Allen, who had 12 points in 11 minutes.
END 3d quarter, Celtics 87-80: Carmelo Anthony dropped 14 points in the third quarter as the Nuggets overcame a slow start to the second half and have made this one interesting.
It was only a matter of time before Anthony heated up. Paul Pierce did a nice job on him in the first half, but Carmelo's a scary good scorer. Along with J.R. Smith, the Nuggets have two players who can score in bunches. And that doesn't even include Mr. Big Shot.
3:24 3d quarter, Celtics 83-68: Rajon Rondo comes out of the game with four fouls and a sore hand after getting hit on his way to the basket.
5:52 3d quarter, Celtics 78-58: Kevin Garnett is hitting the long jumper tonight. He has 14 points.
9:24 3d quarter, Celtics 70-56: A 9-5 run to start the third quarter has the Celtics off and running. Timeout, Denver.
Halftime, Celtics 61-51: Three personal fouls for Paul Pierce appear to be the only thing keeping this game from being a blowout. Pierce torched the Nuggets for 16 points in 13 minutes in the first half but was limited by those three fouls.
Even without Pierce on the floor the Celtics have been impressive, shooting 54 percent in the first half. Kevin Garnett had 10 points and 5 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo added 5 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds. Great contributions all around.
4:04 2d quarter, Celtics 49-44: Paul Pierce (16 points), who's been playing great and dominating his matchup with Carmelo Anthony, also picks up his third foul.
5:33 2d quarter, Celtics 44-40: Nate Robinson has given the Celtics a nice lift off the bench, hitting 2 of 3 shots for five quick points.
9:13 2d quarter, Tied at 33: Marquis Daniels picks up his second personal. Daniels, Glen Davis, and Rajon Rondo all have two fouls.
END 1st quarter, Celtics 30-27:The Celtics lead the Nuggets 30-27 after the first thanks to 62 percent shooting. Paul Pierce leads all scorers with 14 points.
53.9 1st quarter, Celtics 28-26:Carmelo Anthony gets a friendly road call, picking up a block on Glen Davis even though Davis had both feet planted outside the charge circle.
2:56 1st quarter, Tied at 20: Even without Kenyon Martin, Denver is dominating points in the paint, 16-6.
5:47 1st quarter, Celtics 14-11: Rajon Rondo uses a nifty fake to buy some time, then passes to Paul Pierce for an easy lay-up on a 3-on-2 break. Pierce has six points.
9:25 1st quarter, Celtics 6-5: Chauncey Billups gets a couple of screens and Rajon Rondo fails to follow him over the top. Easy jumper for Billups.
11:44 1st quarter, Celtics 2-0: Kendrick Perkins finds Kevin Garnett for the alley-oop right after the jump. Great way to start the game.
PREGAME: Kenyon Martin is out tonight for the Nuggets.
Rajon Rondo, G
Ray Allen, G
Paul Pierce, F
Kevin Garnett, F
Kendrick Perkins, C
Chauncey Billups, G
Arron Afflalo, G
Carmelo Anthony, F
Johan Petro, C