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Recap: Denver Nuggets fall to Boston Celtics on the road

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NBA: Denver Nuggets at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets won the tip, and Nikola Jokic quickly drew a foul on a tip-in attempt following a miss by Jamal Murray. Jokic went to the line and got the scoring going with a pair of free throws. Tristan Thompson converted a dunk on the other end, but Jokic got them right back with a shot in the paint. Off a miss by Kemba Walker, Murray drained a stepback triple when he gained a bit of separation from Boston Celtics’ forward Jayson Tatum.

The two sides traded misses, including a wide-open attempt by Michael Porter Jr. before Walker air-balled a 3-point shot. Denver threw the ball out of bounds, and, after another miss by Semi Ojeleye, Murray dribbled the ball out of bounds to give it right back. Walker drove and was fouled by JaMychal Green en route to a layup that turned into a 3-point play at the line.

Jokic hit a fallaway shot along the baseline, and he was in a good rhythm early on. After trading turnovers and bad misses, Jaylen Brown was fouled before a timeout was called by Boston. Out of the timeout, Tatum was fouled, but Murray tipped the ball out of bounds on Ojeleye. Jokic got a shot to go following an inbounds play, and the Celtics were floundering on 3-point shots.

Facundo Campazzo had a triple go all the way around the rim before R.J. Hampton was called for a questionable foul on Tatum which sent him to the line. Tatum nailed a pair before Jokic got another easy shot to fall. Thompson got the easy shot of his life when no one rotated to help on a pick-and-roll. Following a miss by Denver, Walker was gifted an easy triple which made it a one-point game before a Nuggets’ timeout.

Porter missed a contested shot out of the timeout prior to a make by Brown. Back on offense, Porter was called for a bizarre foul around the rim while going for a rebound which resulted in one made free throw for Boston. The Celtics were in the midst of an 8-0 run before a Green turnover. Denver finally ended the run with a 3-point jumper for Jokic to give him 13 of the team’s 16 points. Walker got a shot to fall on the other end with Campazzo falling to the floor clutching his head.

Following a miss by Campazzo, Brown got a triple to fall following two missed foul calls on a driving Hampton, and Michael Malone was quickly called for a technical foul when he let every ref on the floor hear about it. Out of the dead ball, Jokic got his defender up in the air before throwing down a powerful dunk. Brown got another shot to fall from mid-range before Hampton hit a layup under the cup.

Murray hit a shot at the elbow out of a dead ball, but Robert Williams quickly got that back from mid-range. Boston was called for a defensive 3-second violation, and Murray hit the free throw along with a mid-range jumper which tied the game briefly before another Boston make. Murray turned the ball over with fewer than 10 seconds on the clock, and Hampton was called for a foul that wasn’t there which gave Tatum two free throws to make it 30-26 Boston to end the first.

Out of the quarter break, Payton Pritchard nailed a triple from the corner before finding Williams for an alley-oop slam which led to a quick Denver timeout. Denver had a bad miss out of the timeout, but Tatum bailed them out with a miss of his own. Following a Boston turnover, Isaiah Hartenstein threw it away and gave it right back. Vlatko Cančar took a steal and right to the basket with it, but Boston hit a 3-point shot almost immediately. A Hartenstein layup cut it to eight before Williams tipped it back to 10.

Murray turned it over again thanks to a Tatum steal, and Markus Howard was forced to foul him to stop the fast break, but he made both free throws. Denver’s rebounding was put on display for a pair of possessions, and Jokic was fouled before making another 3-point shot off of the inbounds pass. Zeke Nnaji forced a miss out of Tatum, but the Nuggets turned it over which led to a dunk by the Celtics and a timeout by Denver along with another discussion between Malone and the refs.

Out of the timeout, Jokic was fouled again. Following an inbound, he was unable to get a fadeaway jumper to fall. Denver forced a miss before a bad miss by Porter. A miss by Boston gave the ball back to Denver. Murray committed his fifth turnover of the game before a layup by Pritchard stretched the lead to 15 before Jokic got a 3-pointer to fall. Off a miss by Boston, Green hit a shot from the top of the key, but Boston answered it right away with a triple.

Campazzo missed a layup which Jokic rebounded where he was fouled, and he went right at Thompson following the inbounds where he drew another foul. Jokic knocked down both free throws, and Brown missed a 3-point shot. A miss by Campazzo was snared by Jokic before he drew another foul under the basket. He made both free throws which brought them back within nine before Walker converted a 3-pointer from the wing. Jokic hit a shot from just past the free-throw line to give him 27. Ojeleye missed a shot and had numbers, and Campazzo converted it into two points with a magical reverse layup.

Porter found Facu in the corner for a triple that brought Denver within five with 2:13 remaining to force a Boston timeout. Out of the timeout, Boston turned it over, but Denver did nothing with it. Jokic found Murray in the corner for three more points with 1:20 remaining before Murray knocked it away from Tatum and nearly resulted in another two points if it weren’t just out of the reach of Facu. On the other end, Ojeleye finally got a triple to go before another easy bucket for Jokic.

Denver had a nearly perfect defensive possession before Tatum found Brown for a dunk with 20.0 left on the clock. Porter missed another 3-point shot late, and Denver went into the half trailing 59-54 on the road despite a 29-point half from Jokic. Coming out of the break, Walker knocked down a triple before Murray hit a mid-range jumper. Boston turned it over, and Murray hit another shot from mid-range to bring them within four.

The two sides traded misses prior to a 3-point make by Ojeleye. With the shot clock running down, Jokic hit a fadeaway jumper to bring them within three before Boston called a timeout. Out of the timeout, Boston scored a pair of buckets following a Denver miss prior to a layup off a steal by Campazzo. Off another Campazzo steal, Murray hit a triple from distance to bring them within two before Tatum got a mid-range shot to fall. Murray hit his own fadeaway shot over the outstretched hand of Walker.

Murray drew a foul on Tatum, but he missed the shot attempt before a Brown layup went in. A rare miss by Jokic gave Boston the ball, and Green committed a lazy foul on Brown when he failed to slide his feet. Following the inbounds play, Hampton harrassed Boston to force a shot-clock violation, but Denver gave the ball right back with a turnover of their own. The two sides were getting sloppy with another Boston turnover. Jokic got another bucket to fall to give him 33 on the night. A rebound by Hampton nearly turned into a layup to tie the game before he was bumped underneath. Jokic fouled Thompson on a rebounding attempt, but Boston was unable to make them pay before Jokic tied it up at 71.

Brown hit a 3-pointer to snatch that lead right back. Despite a great contest from Thompson, Jokic hit a great shot before Brown hit another triple. Porter missed a pair of shots in the mid-range area before Brown hit a third straight 3-pointer to force a Nuggets’ timeout. Both sides traded turnovers before Jokic drew a foul to go to the line where he knocked down two more.

Tatum got fancy with a layup, and the Nuggets couldn’t answer despite having Jokic matched up with a point guard. A foul by Jokic sent him to the bench for a rest before Tatum converted another shot. A miss by Murray led to an easy make by Brown to put Boston up by 11 with 24 remaining. Howard missed a shot deep in the shot clock, and Denver was trailing 75-86 heading into the final period.

Denver got a bucket to go to start the quarter and forced a miss out of Boston. Following a foul on Campazzo, Hartenstein found a loose ball for an easy layup, but they gave up a quick bucket to Tatum. Murray committed another turnover, and Pritchard was fouled on a layup by Hampton while getting the shot to go before turning it into a 3-point play at the line.

Campazzo snagged an offensive rebound while being fouled and smartly chucked it to the rim. He made both attempts to bring Denver back within 10. Denver had a great defensive possession, but Williams bailed Boston out with a layup. On the other end, Murray turned it over again, but Tatum failed to make them pay with a contested shot from 20 feet. Zeke was fouled on a rebound, and Facu knocked down a triple to bring Denver back within nine.

A miss by Boston was followed by three easy misses by Green, and a timeout was called with 7:30 left on the clock. Coming out of the timeout, Brown hit another 3-point shot, and Campazzo and Jokic each missed a triple to match it. Following a miss by Boston, Jokic dialed up an extra-long two-point shot that brought them within 10. Denver and Boston traded 3-point misses prior to a turnover by Campazzo. Jokic fouled Walker to send him to the line where he knocked down both attempts.

On the other end, Campazzo bailed out the Nuggets with a floating layup following a near turnover by Nnaji, but Brown buried another 3-point bomb. Jokic and Nnaji missed a pair of shots prior to Tatum being called for an offensive foul. Murray went to the rim for a layup to bring them within 11. Tatum was fouled and made both free throw attempts which resulted in a Denver timeout with 3:34 remaining trailing by 13.

Zeke got a shot to go out of the break, and they were engaging the hack-a-Thompson strategy to send him to the line where he knocked down 1-of-2. Murray missed a reverse layup, and each side traded misses. Thompson was fouled again, and he made them pay again by making both shots at the line. Murray was fouled, and he put away both free throws to make it a 12-point game.

A miss by Tatum led to a transition opportunity for Denver and an easy layup by Jokic. Thompson got a layup to fall, and the Nuggets' hopes were fading fast with 1:42 remaining down by 12. Murray committed his ninth turnover of the game, and Denver was emptying the bench to close out the game prior to a Walker 3-point make. Hampton scored on a layup with 1:06 remaining, and Boston was officially pulling their starters.

Denver was looking to start their Eastern conference run with a win, but their wing defense wasn’t good enough against Brown who put up 27 points on the night while going 5-of-10 from 3-point range. Denver is looking to get healthy sooner rather than later because they were without five different rotation players tonight, and a lot of NBA teams are going to be able to make you pay for that as the Celtics did en route to a 112-109 win.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic - 43

Assists: Facundo Campazzo - 7

Rebounds: Michael Porter Jr. - 7

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic 43 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 16-of-23 field goals, 3-of-5 3-point, 8-of-8 free throw