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Boston at Denver

Smith heats up in fourth as Nuggets put away Celtics

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DENVER -- The Denver Nuggets are building an impressive record against the NBA's elite teams.

J.R. Smith scored 16 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Nuggets recovered from blowing an early 20-point lead to beat the Boston Celtics 114-105 Sunday.

Chauncey Billups had 26 points and Carmelo Anthony had 23 for the Nuggets, who improved to 4-0 against the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. They've beaten Cleveland twice and Orlando and Boston once each this season.

"We're still inconsistent at times," said Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. "If we can lock in and just do the stuff we can do and learn from the mistakes we make, that can go a long way."

Said Anthony, "We're just playing good basketball, that's it. We'll let you all decide if you consider us one of the top teams."

The inconsistency Martin cited in the play of the Nuggets was evident against the Celtics, who rallied from 20 points down in the first quarter to tie the game at 66 in the third before fading down the stretch.

"They're right there," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said when asked to size up the Nuggets. "We knew that before the year started. They're just as good as anybody else. They can win it all. We can win it all. All those teams, but you don't get a trophy for the regular season."

Ray Allen had 25 points and Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Marquis Daniels added 15 points each for the Celtics, who lost for the first time in their last four road games. They remain an NBA-best 20-10 away from home.

"When you get down by 20 against one of the top tier teams, it's always tough to come back in their building," said Paul Pierce, who had just 5 points on 2-for-10 shooting that was affected by a sore thumb.

"But I'm happy with the road trip for the most part. I feel like we're headed in the right direction. We'd like to have gotten all four wins, but we didn't. Now we have to start establishing ourselves at home and play better."

After Boston fell behind big early, Daniels made a layup following a three-point play by Allen that made the score 66-66 with just less than five minutes to play in the third.

From there, the Nuggets scored 16 of the next 24 points, culminating with Martin's rim-shaking dunk to take an 82-73 lead into the fourth quarter.

"A team like the Celtics, we know they're going to make shots, make runs throughout the game and that's what they did," Anthony said. "We gathered together as a team and said let's not get rattled."

Smith helped make sure the Nuggets didn't fall apart. He began the final period by hitting a 3-pointer and nailed another with 7:50 left to put Denver in front 92-80. He hit two more 3s in the period, skipping back down the court after his fourth came with 4:31 remaining to rebuild the Nuggets' lead to 105-88.

Boston managed to get back within 107-97 on Ray Allen's 3-pointer with 2:29 remaining but Anthony answered with a 3-pointer with 1:35 left to give the Nuggets all the cushion they needed.

Notes

  • A huge get well card for Nuggets coach George Karl, who disclosed last Tuesday he was battling neck and throat cancer, was unfurled at the Pepsi Center atrium to allow fans to express their best wishes.
  • Anthony surpassed 12,000 career points on his first basket, an 18-foot jumper, 3:41 into the game. He now has 12,022 point and ranks as the Nuggets third-leading scorer in franchise history.
  • Boston lost to a Northwest Division team for the first time in seven games this season.
  • Both teams struggled from the free-throw line with the Celtics hitting 13 of 24 (54.2 percent) and the Nuggets making 25 of 40 (62.5 percent).
  • Anthony and Billups were a combined 18 of 19 in free throws while the rest of the Nuggets were a collective 7 of 21.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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J.R. Smith steps up when it matters most, netting 16 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.  (AP)
J.R. Smith steps up when it matters most, netting 16 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. (AP)

Scoreboard
Boston (35-19) 19282632105
Denver (37-19) «37172832114
BOS:R. Allen 25 Pts
BOS:G. Davis 7 Reb
BOS:R. Rondo 11 Ast
DEN:C. Billups 26 Pts
DEN:Nene 10 Reb
DEN:C. Anthony 8 Ast
Players of the Game
DenverBoston

C. Billups

R. Allen
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
26472554
Boston
R. Allen, SG439-145-554225
R. Rondo, PG387-121-2511515
P. Pierce, SF312-101-43215
K. Garnett, PF317-131-253215
K. Perkins, C237-100-041414
R. Wallace, PF224-100-02148
M. Daniels, SG187-81-362515
G. Davis, PF172-62-47056
T. Allen, SG140-22-40112
B. Scalabrine, C10-00-00000
S. Williams, PF10-00-00000
N. Robinson, PGDid Not Play
M. Landry, PFDid Not Play
Totals 45-8513-24372529105
 52.9%54.2% 
Denver
C. Anthony, SF437-158-948223
C. Billups, PG337-1110-1047326
K. Martin, PF325-102-4100412
Nene, C297-112-6103216
A. Afflalo, SG262-50-01225
C. Andersen, PF324-71-76139
J. Smith, SG276-162-241419
T. Lawson, PG132-30-22204
A. Carter, PG30-00-00010
J. Graham, SF10-00-00000
J. Petro, CDid Not Play
R. Balkman, SFDid Not Play
M. Allen, PFDid Not Play
Totals 40-7825-40412421114
 51.3%62.5% 
Other Games
Cle 95 Final
Orl 101
SA 101 Final
Det 109
Mem 104 Final
NJ 94
Hou 94 Final
NO 102
OKC 109 Final
Min 107
Atl 104 Final
GS 108
Sac 88 Final
Pho 104
Utah 93 Final
Port 89