Celts Fall to Nuggets Despite Bird's Big Offensive Night
LAS VEGAS – Jabari Bird gave the Celtics hope Saturday night, but he couldn’t give them a win all by himself.
Boston fell 82-69 to Denver despite Bird’s stellar offensive night that featured a game-high 24 points. Bird shot 9-for-17 from the field, good for 52.9 percent, but the rest of the team converted on only 37.0 percent of its shots.
“The harder playing team usually wins,” said Boston’s head coach, Jay Larranaga. “They played harder than us.”
The Nuggets pulled away over the final 14 minutes of the game after the two teams went back and forth throughout the first three-plus quarters. After leading by only three points with 3:34 left in the third quarter, Denver gained the first double-digit advantage of the game when it pulled ahead 56-46 with 2:18 remaining in the third.
The Nuggets’ lead ballooned all the way to 16 points during the fourth quarter while Boston’s offense sputtered and they cashed in on 10 of their 21 shots.
“As a group I felt like we over-dribbled a lot and dribbled ourselves into tough situations,” Larranaga explained after the loss. “So we’ve got to keep the ball off the ground and we’ve got to move it to the second side more than we did tonight.”
Boston managed to total only 14 assists and 26 made field goals during the game. This was after it tallied 18 assists and 38 made field goals during Friday night’s win over Philadelphia.
Bird was the only member of the C’s who scored in double-figures. Pierria Henry logged the team’s next-highest scoring total with nine points.
Bird’s performance, however, was a bright spot for the C’s amid an otherwise ugly night on offense. He scored in a variety of ways, from cutting off of the ball for open layups, to generating quality shots off the dribble, to scoring from the free-throw line. No other player in the game scored more than 19 points.
“I’ve worked hard all summer. I’ve worked hard all my life. And I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves on the court,” Bird said after the game. “And I’m just thankful to be with a great organization right now, and they’re letting me showcase my skills.”
Boston would have loved to have seen its other heralded players log successful nights as well, but those players were quiet against Denver. After scoring 16 points apiece during Friday’s win, Guerschon Yabusele (seven points) and Semi Ojeleye (three points) combined to score only 10 points Saturday night. They combined to shoot 3-for-12 from the field against Denver.
Meanwhile, first-round draft pick Robert Williams, who exited Friday’s game with a left knee contusion, did not play.
The Nuggets were led by second-year guard Malik Beasley and DeVaughn Akoon Purcell, who scored 19 points apiece. Beasley notched 11 of his points during the opening quarter, while Akoon Purcell poured in 15 of his points during the second half.
Boston now stands at 1-1 after two games in Las Vegas. It will have Sunday off before returning to the court at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday night, when it will take on the Charlotte Hornets.