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Brad Stevens: ‘There was a purpose, a good pride about us the whole day’ 02.21.16 at 9:13 pm ET
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Marcus Smart (36) trips over Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports)

Marcus Smart (36) trips over Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports)

That was more like for Brad Stevens.

After ripping his team following a lackluster loss to the Jazz Friday night in Salt Lake City, the Celtics coach watched as his team raced out to a 20-point first-quarter lead and eventually held on for a 121-101 win over the Nuggets in Denver Sunday night.

The only cause for real concern came when the Nuggets closed to within five points, 67-62, early in the third quarter. But the Celtics responded with hustle and determination from the likes of Marcus Smart, Evan Turner and Avery Bradley, highlighted by a play in the fourth quarter that put the Celtics up 97-82 and essentially put the game away.

“I thought we were really good [most of the game],” Stevens told reporters after the game. “I thought the end of the second quarter and start of the third we weren’t but I thought for the most part, we played 38 minutes about locked in as we’ve played in a while. You could tell there was a purpose, a good pride about us the whole day with everybody that played.

“We got really lucky. They missed a couple of those layups and could’ve cut it to three. I watched them play the Bulls. They were down 16 in the fourth and won. I watched them play the Pacers, it was 15-down, 15-up, 15-down and they win the game. They’re a team that goes on runs. They’re a hard team to stop when they go on a run. They’ve got good athletes.

“For whatever reason, they played really small at our place late, and gave us fits. They went to that 35 minutes out of 48. We had to match that.”

Stevens was very happy with the patience of Isaiah Thomas who was double-teamed most of the first half, before finishing with a team-high 22 points.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Denver Nuggets, Evan Turner
Studs and Duds: Evan Turner, Celtics strike gold in Denver at 7:28 pm ET
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Evan Turner (11) drives to the basket against Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) and forward Will Barton (5) Sunday night. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports)

Evan Turner (11) drives to the basket against Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) and forward Will Barton (5) Sunday night. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports)

There were rocky moments in the Mile High city but, in the end, the Celtics got the win they desperately needed out West. 

Facing a young and rebuilding Nuggets team, Isaiah Thomas (22 points, 12 assists) and Jared Sullinger (16 points, 11 rebounds) each posted double-doubles leading the Celtics to a 121-101 win at Pepsi Arena in Denver. Avery Bradley added 20 points for the Celtics, who finish up their three-game Western road swing with a game Monday night in Minneapolis against the Timberwolves

The Celtics (33-24)  took complete command of the game with a 26-5 spurt in the first quarter, as all seven starters scored. The Celtics‘ bench, which scored just 28 points Friday night in the loss in Utah, matched that total in the first half, led by Evan Turner‘s 13.  Turner nearly finished with a double-double, scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

With the Celtics’ lead up to a game-high 26, 51-25, Denver went on a 10-0 run. That was the beginning of Denver’s deliberate crawl back into the game. Twice the Celtics answered runs with key 3-pointers, once by Turner and another by Marcus Smart. 

The Nuggets (22-34) got the lead down to five, 67-62, and had a chance to trim it even more but Isaiah Thomas blocked a shot and then two possessions later converted a three-point play to build the lead up 10, 72-62. Thomas again took over with four minutes left in the third. He hit a reverse lay up and then converted a pull-up runner with 3:31, putting the Celtics up, 83-69. 

The Nuggets appeared ready to make another run late in the third. But two missed threes were followed up by a Jae Crowder three-point play to make it 91-75. Will “The Thrill” Barton nailed a three with 0.4 seconds left to make it 91-78 Boston heading into the fourth. 

The hustle was there all night for the Celtics, embodied by the trio of Marcus Smart, Evan Turner and Avery Bradley. Smart dove for a loose ball in the Denver offensive end. He tipped it ahead to Turner. Turner raced it down from half-court, saving the ball from rolling out of bounds. He flipped ball back with his right hand to a waiting Avery Bradley and he went running 10 rows deep into the stands. Bradley’s uncontested basket with 10 minutes left put the Celtics up, 97-82. 

The Nuggets never got closer than 10 in the final seven minutes. The Celtics used a 16-6 run to build the lead back to 20, 117-97, before emptying the bench.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Evan Turner. He single-handedly energized the bench and the team, as indicated above. He finished with 17 points and five assists, featuring a brilliant individual play around Nikola Jokic in the second quarter. Runner-up:  Isaiah Thomas. It’s getting repetitive but the lefty scoring guard is carrying the Celtics right now. And he was the answer in big moments when the Celtics seemed in danger of blowing a 26-point first half lead. 

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Kenneth Faried. Zero points in 13 minutes for the Nuggets starting power forward. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Evan Turner, Isaiah Thomas
Report: Celtics have interest in Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari 02.02.16 at 12:21 pm ET
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Danilo Gallinari

Danilo Gallinari

If the Celtics can’t swing a deal for an A-list star, might they turn their sights to a lesser acquisition that would still improve their team, a la Isaiah Thomas last year?

If so, that player could be Danilo Gallinari.

According to a report from over the weekend on Sportando, a website that tracks worldwide basketball, the Celtics have interest in the Nuggets’ sharpshooter, who’s in the midst of his best season.

The 6-foot-10 Italian, the No. 6 overall pick by the Knicks in the 2008 draft, has rebounded from 2014 knee surgery to post the best numbers of his career. He’s averaging 19.3 points and 5.6 rebounds a game, both career highs, and he ranks among the NBA’s top 10 in free throws made (291, 5th) and attempted (333, 9th).

That the Celtics would have interest shouldn’t be a surprise, since the Herald’s Steve Bulpett reported over the summer that Gallinari was a potential target of Celtics president Danny Ainge and that the sides had discussed a deal.

Gallinari, 27, is signed through the 2017-18 season on a two-year, $34 million extension.

Read More: Boston Celtics trade rumors, Celtics, danilo gallinari, Denver Nuggets
Would Danilo Gallinari represent an upgrade for Celtics? 07.14.15 at 8:39 am ET
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Danilo Gallinari

Danilo Gallinari

The Celtics aren’t content with their current roster. That much we know. They’re stocked with good players, but fresh out of great ones, and team president Danny Ainge has openly discussed the C’s need for star power.

But is Nuggets wing Danilo Gallinari the answer? Ainge explored a trade with Denver, and while nothing resulted from the discussion, sources told the Boston Herald a deal for the 26-year-old “could be revived.”

His versatility as a 6-foot-10 wing whose shooting can stretch the floor certainly fits Celtics coach Brad Stevens‘ system, but Gallo was hardly a star even before an ACL tear cost him more than a year of his prime.

After missing the entire 2013-14 NBA season, Gallinari regained form after the All-Star break in 2015, averaging 18.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 40.4 percent from 3-point range over his final 24 appearances. Those numbers would make him an upgrade over any other wing on the C’s roster, including newly signed Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson. His defense when healthy has also steadily improved since his early days on the Knicks.

And while Gallinari would be an upgrade in the short term, his expiring $11.6 million contract would also maintain the Celtics’ flexibility for the long haul, as is the case with soon-to-be C’s forward David Lee, whose expiring $15.5 million deal comes off the books next summer.

Because the Celtics landed Lee for Gerald Wallace‘s expiring contract, they surely would be looking to make a similarly lopsided deal for Gallinari, which is likely where the talks stalled.

Even if the Gallinari discussion is dead and gone, though, Ainge’s interest at least offers an indication of the team’s thinking. For the time being, it does not appear there is a star available on the trade market, so the Celtics are looking for players who will improve the roster now and not limit their ability to land a better one at the trade deadline or in free agency next summer.

Either that, or the Celtics were simply interested in fulfilling their Italian stallion quota with the dearly departed Gigi Datome signing with Euroleague power Fenerbahce overnight.

Read More: Boston Celtics, danilo gallinari, Denver Nuggets, NBA
Celtics start fast, hold off Nuggets 12.06.13 at 9:59 pm ET
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This time, the Celtics found a way to hold their 27-point first half lead.

Jordan Crawford scored 22 while Avery Bradley and Kris Humphries each added 18 to lead a balanced attack as the Celtics raced out to huge first half lead and held on for a 106-98 win over the Denver Nuggets Friday night at TD Garden. Jeff Green scored 15 while Brandon Bass added 14.

The win improves the Celtics to 9-12 on the season, which is still good for first place in the underwhelming Atlantic Division.

The Celtics couldn’t have asked for a better start than the one they got Friday night against the Nuggets.

Led by six points from Bradley, the Celtics raced out to a 14-0 lead to open the game. Bradley finished the first quarter with 13 points and the Celtics made 17-of-26 shots (65.4 percent) to open a huge 39-15 lead over a Nuggets team that entered the game 11-7 and in third place in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference.

The Celtics built their lead to 27 when Vitor Faveriani hit a three to open the second quarter.

From that point, the Nuggets began to claw their way back into the game, outscoring Boston 29-25 in the second quarter. Still, thanks to back-to-back dunks from Humphries and Bradley to close the first half, the Celtics led by 20 at the half, 64-44.

Randy Foye hit a three to start a 9-0 Denver run to open the second half. JJ Hickson converted a layup that cut the lead down to 11, 64-53, in the first two minutes of the half. Ty Lawson drilled a pull-up jumper with 7:42 left in the quarter as Denver capped a 20-4 spurt that cut Boston’s lead down to four, 68-64.

Denver would draw to within three twice in the third, the last time coming on a Timofey Mozgov dunk with 3:31 left in the quarter that cut Boston’s lead to 76-73.

Crawford’s three with 39.5 seconds remaining and the shot clock winding down gave the Celtics a 106-96 lead and sealed Boston’s ninth win of the season.

The Celtics avoided repeating last season’s epic 27-point collapse in Atlanta. On Jan. 25, 2013, the Celtics led the Hawks, 48-21, in the second quarter but couldn’t hold on in the second half, losing 123-111, in double-overtime. That was also the last game Rajon Rondo played, as he tore his right ACL late in the game and has been out of action since.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, NBA, Rajon Rondo
Paul Pierce: ‘This is the type of win that can give us confidence to move forward’ 02.11.13 at 1:19 am ET
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Celtics captain Paul Pierce did it yet again on Sunday night with a triple-double scoring 27 points with 14 rebounds and 14 assists in 54 minutes of action as the Celtics outlasted the Denver Nuggets 118-114 in a triple overtime thriller at TD Garden.

‘€œIt was a good win, man. It was hard fought, we’€™re playing against one of the hottest in the league, on our home court,” Pierce said. “It’€™s definitely a satisfying win. When you come out and we looked bleak, especially in the overtimes, this was a great game to be a part of. It was a great win against a quality ball club, not to say the other teams weren’€™t quality teams we played, but you know, this is the type of win that can give us confidence to move forward.’€

Pierce hit game-tying three with time running out on their six-game win streak at the end of double-overtime before Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett took over in triple-overtime. The three that rattled home with 5.2 seconds left in double-overtime, sending the Garden crowd into pandemonium.

‘€œWell, the original play was Pierce coming off pick-and-roll, if he can get a three off, get it,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “If not, Jet [Jason Terry]. Then it was broken and Paul just made a play. I mean, that’€™s what great players do. I would love to tell you I had something to do with it. I was sitting just like the fans playing, ‘€˜Please, Lord, Paul make a shot.’€™ Once he got below 11 ‘€“ originally we were going to go for a quick two ‘€“ once he got under the 11-second mark I was yelling, ‘€˜We have to take a three now.’€™’€

Pierce said once the Celtics got the game into triple-overtime, it was time for Garnett to take over.

‘€œThat was part of the plan,” Pierce said. “We wanted to get him on the block, we wanted to get it to him on the spots where he can take the shot. That was a big part of the plan. We felt like he had the advantage, wasn’€™t going to it enough, but we just tried to keep going to him, keep wearing out the matchup, he made three quick baskets in that last overtime, Jason hits a big shot, and that’€™s what you gotta do. A lot of different guys stepped up for us tonight. Jeff Green in the first overtime was huge. Two huge shots at the end of regulation and one in overtime, so it’s got to be a team effort. Avery’€™s defense’€¦I mean it was a combination of everybody and that’€™s what its gonna take for us to move forward.”

Garnett hit Boston’s first three shots of the third extra period before Terry’s three gave the Celtics the lead for good.

‘€œRoles expand,” Pierce said. “I know what im capable of, but when you have a guy like Rondo, not as much is needed from you because you have another guy who can do so many things also. So I think with him out the roles gonna change. I’€™m gonna be more of a facilitator for this ball club, and you know it’s got to come from not only me, its gotta come from a number of guys. You see other guys being able to step up, we were scoring more. So it’€™s not only me, its everybody whose roles change, and has to do more with the injuries that we have.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, NBA, Paul Pierce
Jason Terry: ‘My gut tells me to keep shooting’ 02.10.13 at 10:43 pm ET
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Jason Terry hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:33 remaining in triple overtime to leave the Celtics to a 118-114 win over the Denver Nuggets Sunday night at TD Garden. The Celtics won their seventh straight with a thrilling victory while ending Denver’s nine game winning streak.

After missing six straight threes, Terry wasn’t about to turn down another chance at coming through for his team. He took a pass from Paul Pierce and hit a triple with 1:33 left in triple-overtime to give the Celtics a lead they would not relinquish.

‘€œWell shooters shoot, and the looks they were giving me were great ones,” Terry said. “I’ve got to admit, JaVale McGee is a huge target to shoot over, so a lot of those shots were over him and they were short but my instinct, my gut tells me to keep shooting. Paul Pierce did a hell of a job drawing defenders all night long and I just knew if I got a clean, clean look uncontested, I was going to knock it down.’€

Pierce said after the game that Terry promised he would make his next 3-point attempt.

“No question. I told him and whoever else wanted to listen ‘€“ that’€™s just my motto, that’€™s how I’€™ve been,” Terry said. “In a game like that it’€™s just so mentally draining ‘€“ you have to stay into it. Defensively we continued to get stops but not only was Paul Pierce’€™s shot tremendous but I thought Kevin Garnett I mean, the man’€™s 50-years old. For him to make those shots that he made when we direly needed them was tremendous for us.’€

As for his steal at the end of the third overtime on Andre Miller, a play Pierce called the “biggest” of the game, Terry said right place, right time.

‘€œThat was just individual defense,” Terry said. “Mano-a-mano. I know Andre, we came in at the same time together. Many battles. He wants to get right, he got right. I cut him off, he exposed the ball, I got the strip, and I was able to knock it out.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Jason Terry, JET
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