At last, the Boston Celtics found a way to get a win in the closing moments, but it was not easy.
Kyrie Irving on Monday scored 10 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and Jaylen Brown hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 34 seconds remaining as the struggling Celtics edged the Denver Nuggets 111-110 despite blowing a big lead.
It was only Boston’s second victory in seven games.
“I thought we were gassed at the end of the game,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “We missed some defensive assignments, and I thought we missed some good opportunities on offense, but they found a way.”
The Celtics had struggled in tight games over the past two weeks, with three losses in games decided by four points or fewer, including a 109-105 defeat to Golden State on Saturday.
Denver nearly added to their misery.
After Irving’s miss with seven seconds to go, the Nuggets — not using a timeout — raced up the court and got a look at the buzzer, but Torrey Craig’s tip-in of Will Barton’s long attempt from three-point range was too late.
Afterward, Denver coach Michael Malone defended his decision not to use a timeout to set something up.
“[We] got a stop, didn’t want them to set their defense,” Malone said. “Will Barton has made plays like that before for us and I stand by that decision.”
Irving finished 11 of 17 from the field to lead the Celtics.
Jayson Tatum added 20 points and Marcus Morris had 14 off the bench.
Boston blew a 20-point lead and trailed heading into the final period.
Then the Celtics could not hold onto a six-point advantage in the final two minutes as the Nuggets tied the game at 108-108 with 43 seconds to go.
Moments later, though, Al Horford fed Brown for the decisive three-pointer.
The second-year small forward had missed his first four three-point attempts.
“I was like, no way I’m missing this one,” Brown said. “I was open. Everything that happened before didn’t matter. I had to make the shot.”
Nikola Jokic had a double-double by the first minute of the second half for Denver, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Barton scored 19, Gary Harris 15 and Jamal Murray 14.
Mason Plumlee had 16 points and eight rebounds before leaving with a strained right calf in the fourth.
“We could have beat a really good and tough team, but we didn’t,” Jokic said. “We had a chance, but we didn’t take it.”
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first