DENVER (AP) Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum each scored 30 points and the Boston Celtics beat the Denver Nuggets 124-104 on Sunday.
The Celtics shot 57.3% from the floor and finished 19-for-40 from beyond the arc. They also made all 11 of their free throws.
The Nuggets almost couldn’t keep up. They got 23 points from Nikola Jokic, shooting 40.2% from the ground and shooting 14 of 39 from long range.
Tatum and Payton Pritchard each made four 3-pointers before the break, sparking a 46-21 run by the Celtics to close out the first half. Boston scored its last 15 points of the second quarter on 3-pointers, and Tatum’s half-court shot at the buzzer blew out.
Pritchard added a 3 in the final minutes, going 5-for-5 from behind the arc before adding a late layup to finish with 17 points. Grant Williams added 13.
Jokic led the Nuggets in scoring, but the reigning MVP missed 14 shots in the first half and went 8-for-23 from the floor.
The Celtics outshot Denver 64.3% to 30.6% in the first half, and their bench outscored the Nuggets’ reserves by a whopping 29-14.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone made a statement as the second half began with players from his bench on the court: Austin Rivers, Bones Hyland, DeMarcus Cousins, Davon Reed and JaMychal Green.
The Celtics called a timeout 1:17 into the third quarter as the Nuggets’ backups began the second half on a 7-2 run. After a timeout, Boston settled back in and the Celtics resumed their fiery shooting bunt, increasing their lead to 90-62 late in the third quarter.
The Nuggets’ worst loss was by 29 points on Nov. 21 when they were taken off the floor at Phoenix, 126-97.
Denver trailed by 28 points, but the Nuggets used a 14-4 run to get to 102-86 with a rim-snapping dunk from Aaron Gordon after a Jokic steal.
Aaron Gordon had 13 points for Denver.
Celtics: F Aaron Nesmith did not play with a sprained right ankle. He hasn’t played since March 3 against Memphis. … Boston closed out the first quarter on an 11-5 run with Jokic on the bench as Daniel Theis hit a jump shot, a 3-pointer after saving a missed pass and an alley-oop dunk before Tatum closed out the quarter. with an indisputable triple. .
Nuggets: Jokic led all scorers with a dozen points in the first quarter, but his tough night of shooting the ball was already evident when he went 3-for-8 from the ground. He cooled down even more in the second quarter, missing all but two of his 11 shots. He finished 8 of 23.
THE MURRAY MYSTERY
Jamal Murray showed up in the third quarter in street clothes. The Nuggets have no idea if his star point guard will suit up soon. Murray recently practiced with Grand Rapids Gold, their G League affiliate, while continuing his return from ACL surgery last spring. Coach Michael Malone said there is no roadmap for Murray’s next steps, although a return to Grand Rapids is possible.
Malone said he doesn’t know if Murray and/or F Michael Porter Jr. (back surgery) will be shut down until next season if they don’t return to the court by a certain date.
“It’s a valid question, one that I just don’t have an answer to,” Malone said.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Boston: Visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.
Denver: Hosts the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
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