Denver Nuggets 87, Boston Celtics 105: Three Takeaways

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The Nuggets held a 14-point lead but faltered down the stretch in a 105-87 loss to the Boston Celtics at Ball Arena.

Michael Porter Jr. led the way for the Nuggets with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Nikola Jokić had his 14th triple-double of the season, posting 17 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds on 6 of 15 shooting. Jayson Tatum paced the Celtics with 28 points and 10 rebounds.

The Nuggets’ season-high win streak of eight games comes to an end and the team also suffered a season series sweep to the Celtics. Michael Malone’s team will be looking to quickly turn things around when it travels to the Bay Area to face the Warriors (ESPN, ALTITUDE, 8 p.m. MT).

“They turned up the heat and got into us. They switched everything and we allowed that to kill our offensive flow,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said before later adding. "The best thing about the NBA, we get on a plane this afternoon, go to Golden State and try to right the ship and get back to playing at a much higher level than we played today." 

Here are the takeaways:

Brutal collapse

This is one of those games where the Nuggets will gladly take a back-to-back. They will want to turn the page quickly after dropping a game that was in their grasp in the first half.

Denver held Boston to just 16 points in the first quarter and led 27-13 at the 1:53 mark. Although the Celtics would enter the break trailing by seven, the home team appeared to be largely in control as its defense held the visitors to just 34.9 percent shooting. Denver would take a 10-point lead at the 8:03 mark in the third quarter thanks to a floater by Jokić. Then things would start to unravel for the Nuggets.

The Celtics would proceed to go on an assertive 31-3 run from the end of the third quarter to midway in the fourth quarter. Denver would be held to just eight points in the final 12 minutes of the contest.

"We didn't shoot well from the field and from the three. We had a lot of assists, maybe, but even then, we didn't shoot at a high level. I think the ball was flying, but the end of the third quarter and the fourth quarter was really bad," Jokić explained. 

Bench struggles

A big reason why the Celtics were able to steal the momentum from the Nuggets came down to the bench’s inability to hold leads throughout the contest.

Boston went on its game-changing run late in the third when the starters were largely out of the game and Denver’s bench had no counters for the group. Overall, the Nuggets’ bench could muster 14 points and the group’s plus/minus was concerning. Monte Morris (-23), P.J. Dozier (-30), JaMychal Green (-23), Paul Millsap (-23), and Zeke Nnaji (-6) struggled to make an impact despite some bright spots.

"We have to get more from our bench. You look at the stat sheet, most of our bench were double-digit for plus/minus; they were negative," Malone said.

Facu a bright spot

Facundo Campazzo finished just two points shy of his career-high of 16 and stood out offensively, going 3 of 3 from downtown and 5 of 6 shooting to score 14 and add four assists.

The Argentine reserve had one of the plays of the game when he drove to the basket and faked a pass before scoring. It was a solid outing for the 30-year-old.

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