February 20, 2013

NBA: Back from break, Celtics fall to Nuggets

 DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson each scored 26 points to help the Denver Nuggets snap a three-game losing streak by beating the Boston Celtics 97-90 Tuesday night.

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Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce takes a seat on the bench during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets in Denver on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Andre Miller and Kosta Koufos added 11 points apiece and Kenneth Faried had 16 rebounds to go with his seven points to help the Nuggets gain a split of their season series with Boston, which last week beat Denver in triple overtime to end the Nuggets' nine-game winning streak and start their losing streak.

Jeff Green had 20 points off the bench to lead the Celtics, who have been playing well despite losing Rajon Rondo (torn ACL), Jared Sullinger (back surgery) and Leandro Barbosa (torn ACL) to season-ending injuries in the past month.

Avery Bradley added 17 points and Courtney Lee had 15 for the Celtics, who lost their fourth in a row to the Nuggets in Denver.

Behind much of the night, the Nuggets stretched their lead to 78-70 going into the fourth quarter when Corey Brewer made layups on successive possessions.

The Celtics fought back to tie it at 84-all on Bradley's 3-pointer with 5:37 left to play, but Gallinari, who missed the previous two games with a sinus infection, hit a clutch 3-pointer and Lawson added a basket on a putback.

After Kevin Garnett missed a pair of free throws, Faried grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in to give the Nuggets a 93-86 lead with 2:35 left.

Boston got a driving layup from Green and a pair of free throws from Jason Terry to cut Denver's lead to 94-90 with 1:09 left.

After Faried missed a pair free throws, Garnett missed a short, contested jumper and Gallinari rebounded for Denver, getting the ball out to Lawson. He was fouled and made both free throws to give the Nuggets a six-point cushion with 20.7 seconds remaining.

The Celtics didn't score again.

Boston had pulled to within four points late in the third quarter when Denver's JaVale McGee was called for goal-tending on Green's 3-pointer. That cut into a lead that Denver had built with a 9-2 run punctuated by a 3-pointer by Gallinari and a swooping one-handed dunk by McGee.

Lee hit a 17-foot jumper as the second-quarter buzzer sounded, offsetting a 3-pointer by Lawson moments earlier and giving the Celtics a 50-49 halftime lead.

Boston led by as many as nine points after going on a 12-2 burst that culminated in Lee's three-point play for a 36-27 lead with 7:08 left in the quarter. Denver answered with a 12-3 run, pulling into a 39-all tie when Andre Miller drained a 3-pointer and Lawson drove for layups on back-to-back possessions.

NOTES: The game was preceded by a moment of silence for Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who died Monday at 80. ... In a pregame ceremony, the Nuggets' Andre Iguodala was presented with his Olympic ring by USA Basketball executive director Jim Tooley. Iguodala, who missed two previous games with a neck strain, was held scoreless on 0-7 shooting in his return. ... The Celtics continue a five-game road trip by playing the Lakers on Wednesday in the second of a back-to-back set. ... Boston missed a chance to sweep the season series with Denver for the first time since 2003-04.

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