NBA wrap: Kyrie Irving leads Celtics in thriller over Nuggets

Brad Stevens ‘all for’ Boston Celtics keeping Jarell Eddie around

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving scored 27 points (11-of-17 field goals, 3-of-3 free throws) with 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 2 3-pointers, and 2 turnovers in 36.9 minutes of Monday's 111-110 win over the Denver Nuggets.

The quote-unquote "best loss of the season" needed to be followed by a win, and after some anxious moments, the Celtics delivered.

That's what the Celtics will try to deal with when they host the New York Knicks on Wednesday night as Boston plays the first of three straight games at TD Garden.

The veteran forward appeared in only seven games this season entering Tuesday, playing a total of 50 minutes.

"They're talented. They put us in a lot of tough spots, and I thought our guys battled". "And if we continue to play that hard, I think we're gonna find a way to turn the corner and be a really good basketball team".

He had been excited this weekend about the improvements his team showed during a loss to the Golden State Warriors, but badly wanted the Celtics to finish their four-game road trip in the win column. Denver almost added to their misery. After Jamal Murray drilled a 3-pointer to slice San Antonio's lead to 106-104 with 31.6 seconds to play and Denver got a defensive stop, Barton's 3-pointer from the top of the key rattled out just before the buzzer. Should Malone have called the timeout?

"That young team has come leaps and bounds", Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. They were able to come in and make shots, but we knew them.

Kemba Walker finished with 23 points and three three-pointers to lead the Hornets, who have lost two straight games and four of six.

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Boston blew a 20-point lead and trailed heading into the final period. The Celtics escaped with a one-point win after a controversial decision from Nuggets' head coach Michael Malone to not use his final timeout on the last possession of the game. "This team is looking for me to give energy, give pace, give a spark to the team", Murray said.

"I was open. Everything that happened before didn't matter".

Points in the paint for Denver continued to pile up even late in the game with Murray finishing another lay up to bring the Nuggets within one. Arthur was in the starting lineup because normal front-line center Mason Plumlee stayed back in Denver to nurse a calf injury.

Elsewhere, Kent Bazemore scored 22 points, including a tiebreaking three-pointer with 2:09 remaining, and the Atlanta Hawks rallied after trailing by 11 in the third quarter to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-100.

Boston's defense stifled the Nuggets while building a 20-point lead in the first half, prompting the green-clad fans that peppered the stands to break into chants of "Let's go Celtics!".

The Nuggets climbed back on the strength of a 14-5 run to end the half and outscored Boston 37-24 in the third to go up 82-80. Did Will Barton make the right read?

Spurs: Aldridge has scored 20-plus points in 33 of 50 games this season. Daniel Theis had 11 points and Horford scored 10. F Wilson Chandler sat out with an illness.

Added Barton: "It's just building me up". Kristaps Porzingis set a new career-high with six three-pointers and finished with 28 points.

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