2/11/22 by Andrew Carter
A late fourth-quarter surge by the Celtics was enough to overtake the Denver Nuggets on Friday night, propelling Boston to a 108-102 victory at the Garden.
Boston had just enough to survive MVP candidate Nikola Jokic down the stretch. The Celtics were deadlocked with Denver at 95 with five minutes remaining in the fourth, before rattling off a 9-2 run to take command with less than a minute left.
“Things weren’t going our way early,” Marcus Smart said after the game. “We didn’t let that deter us. We stayed on pace, we stuck with the program that [Coach Udoka] and his coaching staff have, and we came out with the victory.”
Denver started off strong from the field, shooting 56.5% as a team in the first quarter. Jokic had seven points, six rebounds and four assists in only ten minutes.
The Celtics were able to survive that stretch, however, due to timely turnovers defensively. Boston forced nine of them total through the early minutes of the second quarter, and finished the first half with 14 takeaways.
Additionally, a strong run from newcomer Derrick White kept Boston within striking distance. A 13-0 run that started in the late first quarter pushed Boston from a 32-22 deficit to a 35-32 lead. White scored eight of those 13 points.
“I felt good,” White said. “I was just trying to figure it out, try not to be in the way, and make shots… it was a good win, and I hope I can continue to help the team win.”
White finished with 15 points and six rebounds in his Boston debut. Jayson Tatum finished with a team-high 24 points. Jaylen Brown had 22 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.
With their seventh straight win, the Celtics are now 32-25, and they haven’t lost since Jan. 28. They are a game behind the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed.
Their chance for eight in a row will be against the Atlanta Hawks, who were the last team to beat Boston before the streak. Tip-off is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.