Ford Keys to the Game: Nuggets 89, Celtics 105

Ford Keys to the Game

Nuggets 89, Celtics 105

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Nate Robinson

Nate Robinson gives his customary 3-point signal after drilling a shot from downtown Wednesday night.
Elsa/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

The lead was built, the lead was slashed, and the lead was built again. In the end the Celtics wound up with a 105-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets, their eighth consecutive win overall, but it certainly wasn't easy getting there.

Even though Carmelo Anthony wasn't on the court for Denver the Boston Celtics managed to come out of the gates with the intensity and fire of an NBA Finals game. That attitude turned into results, as the C's poured it on the Nuggets and built a 19-point lead in the first quarter.

The second quarter was a different story, as Ty Lawson switched up the pace for Denver and helped lead them back into the game. As you already know, the C's went on to pull away down the stretch for a blowout win, but interestingly enough, the most important part of the game might not have come when Boston rebuilt their lead into a double-digit margin.

Lawson came into the game and scored or assisted on 19 of Denver's 31 points in the second quarter. That outburst helped the Nuggets slash that 19-point first quarter lead down to one with 3:24 remaining in the first half. At that point, it would have been easy for the Celtics to quit. Last season, allowing a team to come back from such a deficit would have resulted in a negative halftime mood and likely a loss in the end. Too bad for the Nuggets, because this isn't last season's Celtics.

This season's Celtics responded with a punch that staggered Denver heading into halftime. The star of the game, Ray Allen, threw the first swing when he drilled a 23-foot jumper to bump the lead back up to three. Paul Pierce quickly followed with two free throws, and after Nene answered with two points for Denver, Allen scored four more points to close out the first half's scoring.

It wound up being an 8-2 run by Boston to close out the half, which gave the C's a 59-52 lead. Had it not responded with that punch to close out the first half, we might easily be sitting here discussing another disappointing loss by the C's to an undermanned opponent. Instead, we're talking about the killer instinct Boston acted on that resulted in another blowout win.

Key Box Score Line

Ray Allen's quiet demeanor is as consistent as his free throw stroke. That disposition has its positives and its negatives, and one result that can fall into both of those categories is the fact that he can sometimes be lost in the shuffle of a loaded Celtics team. That's exactly what happened tonight, and it was undoubtedly in a positive light.

Allen scored a game-high 28 points for the Celtics to go along with five rebounds and four assists, but he was still the unsung hero after the game. It took an entire press conference from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, and about 90 percent of Doc Rivers' press conference before Allen's name was even mentioned. How does that happen? Well, as some would put it, that's the nature of the beast.

"That's Ray. He kind of does what he does," said Doc Rivers. "It's almost like when he makes all of his shots we assume it. When he doesn't make 'em that's when we want to talk about him. But that's Ray Allen."

His 28 points came via a phenomenal shooting performance from everywhere on the court. He only made three 3-pointers (out of five attempts) while shooting 9-of-14 from the field overall. He also got to the line for eight free throw attempts, making seven. When he's in the midst of that type of shooting night, this Boston team is an incredibly difficult team to knock off, and the Nuggets found as much out first hand tonight.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Boston led from start to finish, as there we no ties or lead changes. Its biggest lead was 20 points.
  • The teams combined to shoot a dreadful 10-of-34 from 3-point range (4-of-15 for Boston, 6-of-19 for Denver).
  • Ray Allen scored a game-high 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
  • Rajon Rondo racked up 13 assists in only 30:06 of playing time.
  • Every Celtic who committed a personal foul (nine total players) finished with either one foul or three fouls.
  • Denver's top performance in the three main statistical categories were all held or tied by bench players. Ty Lawson led the team in scoring (24 points) and tied in assists with Chauncey Billups (seven dimes). Al Harrington led the team in rebounds with eight.
  • The Celtics blocked 10 shots to Denver's one. Half of those blocks came from Shaquille O'Neal (three) and Semih Erden (two)
  • Glen Davis, who scored 16 points off the bench, led all players with 12 free throw attempts. He made eight.
  • Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each scored 17 points.
  • Pierce went 0-for-4 from 3-point range but made all five of his free throw attempts.
  • Arron Afflalo shot 2-of-2 from 3-point range and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line.
  • Afflalo, Billups and Harrington each attempted 10 shots for Denver. They combined to shoot 11-of-30.
  • Harrington shot 1-of-7 from downtown.

Quote of the Night

Paul Pierce on Doc Rivers' coaching strategy before the game: "He really didn’t want to tell us that Carmelo wasn’t playing, I think he waited to the very last second cause he went over the game plan (as if he was playing), so we took that to heart and went out there and just tried to establish ourselves in the first quarter."