Nuggets advance to playoffs with 114-105 win over Celtics



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BOSTON (AP) – Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 13 rebounds. The Denver Nuggets rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Boston Celtics 114-105 Monday night.

Will Barton added 20 points to the Nuggets, who won a playoff spot for the first time since 2012-13. They won four times in a row.

Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 30 points. Al Horford finished with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Both teams arrived in the night to improve their playoff position.

The Nuggets began their four-game journey just behind Golden State, the Western Conference leader, in the standings. The Celtics placed fifth in the East, second in Indiana and two points behind Philadelphia, which they visited on Wednesday.

The game looked like a showdown between two playoff teams.

He remained tight at the start of the second half, with neither team having more than two picks in the third quarter.

But the Nuggets had some room for maneuver in the final period and took a 106-94 lead with 3:47 left in the game.

Boston scored seven straight to score less than five, but Barton stopped the race with a layup. After missing a pointer of 3 by Horford at the other end, Paul Millsap sealed it with a four-point game that earned him a score of 112-101 with 31.3 seconds to go.

The pace was fast.

The teams combined for 107 points in the first period. The Nuggets took the lead 55-52 at half-time, with Jokic and Barton scoring 13 points each.

Irving started the game 1 for 9 on the field, but Horford took over the Celtics' scoring charge, scoring 5 of his 9 attempts on the field.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Jokic recorded his 39th double-double of the season.

Celtics: Played without Gordon Hayward (concussion protocol) and Robert Williams (illness).

THOMAS RETURNS

Isaiah Thomas received a lot of love from the Celtics on his last return to the city, saying he still felt at home despite the multiple stops of the past two seasons.

A video highlighting Thomas' stay in Boston was screened in the first quarter and ended with a standing ovation from fans, players and coaches from both teams.

Denver coach Michael Malone had previously informed Thomas that he was retiring from the rotation in preparation for the playoffs. But he inserted the 5-foot-9 inch guard in the match with 2:42 to play in the first quarter.

Thomas was slowly starting to miss two shots, crossing the limits and hurting Daniel Theis while he was attempting a dunk. He started the second quarter and played a total of seven minutes for the match, finishing without points and with two assists.

Ally twice in Boston, Thomas was caught unawares by the transaction that sent him to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the deal that brought Kyrie Irving to the Celtics in the summer of 2017. He has been dealing with the Lakers during the transaction deadline this season, before landing in Denver last summer.

He claims that the hip injury that had slowed him during his last season in Boston is cured and that whatever happens, he will visit the free agency this summer with his eyes open. This involves being open to a possible return to Boston.

"You never know what could happen," said Thomas. "My options are always open, no matter what it is. If I find myself here at some point. This would greatly improve the story. "

FOLLOWING

Nuggets: Washington Thursday.

Celtics: Visit Philadelphia on Wednesday.

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