BOSTON — Jared Sullinger was benched for the opening quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets, after being late to Celtics’ shootaround for the second time in the past four days.
However, it was Sullinger and his benchmates that made big plays late in a tight fourth quarter, helping the Celtics escape with a 104-100 win over the Nuggets at TD Garden after blowing a 12-point second half lead.
Sullinger made up for his tardiness with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the victory, including a pair of go-ahead free throws with 22.9 seconds remaining in the contest. Sullinger drew a blocking foul on a drive to the rim on the late-game possession, which enabled him to score what ended up being the game-winning points.
From there, Boston closed the game out in style on the defensive end, as reserve small forward Jae Crowder stole Denver’s inbound pass on the ensuing possession. The heady play forced the Nuggets to foul the Celtics, giving Boston the additional free throws needed clinch the win.
Crowder’s steal was one of many contributions from the midseason addition on the night, as the third-year forward finished with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in 26 minutes. Fellow wing Marcus Thornton led the Celtics with a team-high 17 points off the bench, as Boston’s reserves scored 53 of Boston’s 104 points.
The win snapped a four-game home losing streak for the Celtics, and pulled them within 2 1/2 games of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston will have a good chance to improve on their two-game winning streak back at the TD Garden Friday night when they face off with the Philadelphia 76ers.