Jamal Murray Drops 48 Points To Lead Nuggets Past Celtics
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
DENVER (AP) – Jamal Murray scored a career-high 48 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter, and the Denver Nuggets overcame a sluggish start to beat the Boston Celtics 115-107 on Monday night.
At 9-1, the Nuggets are off to their best start since 1976-77. They are 6-0 at home.
Denver spotted the Celtics an 18-point lead in the first quarter but quickly made up ground behind Murray, who scored 23 in the first half.
Murray was feeling it all night, hitting 19 of 30 shots, including five 3-pointers. Murray had two attempts to score 50 in the final seconds, but missed a reverse layup and a 3 at the buzzer.
Despite some foul trouble, Nikola Jokic finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Trey Lyles and Gary Harris each added 13 points.
The Celtics were led by Kyrie Irving, who had 31 points on 13-of-17 shooting.
In a matchup of two of the top defenses in the NBA, it was offense that ruled the night.
More specifically, Murray.
The point guard took over the game in the fourth quarter, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to give the Nuggets some breathing room.
They needed it as the Celtics found some offensive rhythm. Denver coach Michael Malone knew it was just a matter of time before a streaky Boston offense started consistently knocking down jumpers. He was just hoping it would happen after Monday.
“Their offense is trending in the right direction,” Malone said. “Couple that with their defense, which can be suffocating at times, and that’s what makes them such a dangerous team, a team that’s going to go very, very deep in the playoffs.”
Celtics: G Marcus Smart took an elbow to the back of the head from Jokic in the third quarter. … F Marcus Morris drew a technical in the fourth quarter for arguing a charging call.
Nuggets: Murray scored 14 of the team’s 19 points in the first quarter. … G Monte Morris had eight points and drew a big late charge.
NO DOUBTING THIS THOMAS
Celtics coach Brad Stevens raved about Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas, who’s currently sidelined as he rehabs from hip surgery. Thomas played parts of three seasons with Boston.
“I can’t say enough great things about him and all the things that he has meant to the Celtics, Celtic fans in and around New England and even in our house,” Stevens said. “He’s an absolute pleasure to be around.”
Thomas isn’t expected back until possibly next month, but he’s already having an influence on the Nuggets, with his voice.
“We have a relatively quiet group and one thing that everybody knows that’s been around Isaiah is that he’s not quiet,” Malone said. “He brings an energy and a voice and a leadership that we sorely miss.”
MAKING UP FOR BARTON
With shooting guard Will Barton out (right hip/core muscle surgery), the Nuggets have gone with a mixture of Torrey Craig, Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez.
“It’s by committee,” Malone said.
Celtics: At Phoenix on Thursday.
Nuggets: At Memphis on Wednesday before a four-game homestand.
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