Spurs survive last-second shot to beat Nuggets at home
01 February, 2018, 00:56 | Author: John Swanson
Jaylen Brown converted the decisive 3-pointer and Kyrie Irving scored 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting as the Boston Celtics eked out a 111-110 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
He had been excited this weekend about the improvements his team showed during a loss to the Golden State Warriors, but badly wanted the Celtics to finish their four-game road trip in the win column.
Irving missed a jumper with 7.2 seconds left and the Nuggets' chance for a season-best fourth straight win came up empty when Will Barton's last-second three-point attempt didn't even hit the rim.
Irving also missed Boston's January 18 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers to rest a sore left shoulder, and sat out a win over the Toronto Raptors on November 12 after suffering a facial fracture the game prior.
The Nuggets' average margin of victory in their last five games has been 1.6, up from 0.6 for the season. They were able to come in and make shots, but we knew them.
San Antonio ranks 10th in points off turnovers allowed per game (15.4) while Denver ranks 29th (19.3). Those down-to-the-wire defeats always sting, Malone explained, causing his mind to replay decisions and substitution patterns and play calls.
Trey Lyles poured in 20 points off the bench for the Nuggets, who after the game boarded an overnight flight to south Texas to play the second game of a back-to-back against one of the league's marquee teams.
"I thought we were gassed at the end of the game", Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
"We missed some defensive assignments, and I thought we missed some good opportunities on offence, but they found a way". Enes Kanter also made his mark in a big way as he totaled 20 points, 20 rebounds, and five assists.
Ginobili finished 3 for 6 on 3s while scoring 14 points, including six in 31 seconds in the first quarter. "This team is looking for me to give energy, give pace, give a spark to the team", Murray said. "I had to make the shot".
Mason Plumlee had 16 points and eight rebounds before leaving with a strained right calf in the fourth.
"It's going to be a different kind of game each time, and we have learned to win grind-it-out-kinds of games and that's made a difference in things for us this season", Nuggets guard Gary Harris said after Denver's last-second win over Dallas on Saturday. Garry Harris added 17, while Barton and Nikola Jokic scored 13 each and Darrell Arthur tallied 10.
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Boston's defense stifled the Nuggets while building a 20-point lead in the first half, prompting the green-clad fans that peppered the stands to break into chants of "Let's go Celtics!". Morris wasn't his normal self in the beginning of the season because of a knee injury, but he appears to be close to full strength right now given his energy and ability to play close to 30 minutes.
The loss snapped the Nuggets' winning streak at three games and kicks off one of the most challenging weeks of the season in heartbreaking fashion.
"It's going to be really hard", Jokic said.
Added Barton: "It's just building me up". In nine career games against the Celtics, he is averaging 14.4 points and 6.3 rebounds.
But with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, the Spurs turned to the long ball.
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