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Shane Larkin Helps Kyrie Irving Pick Up The Slack as Celtics hold off Nuggets, 124-118

BOSTON — The Celtics didn’t have Al Horford or Marcus Morris Wednesday night against the Denver Nuggets. But they did have Shane Larkin and Aron Baynes. And, of course, Kyrie Irving.

And they couldn’t miss.

Irving poured in 33 and Jaylen Brown added 26 to lead the Celtics to a 124-118 win over the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night at TD Garden. Larkin made all six of his shots from the field – including a pair of threes – to lead a blazing 59.5 percent shooting performance from the Celtics.

“That was the only way we were going to win tonight, the way we were guarding and rebounding,” Brad Stevens said afterward.

Indeed, the Celtics were obliterated on the glass, outrebounded, 48-30, and giving up 20 offensive rebounds. For a complete box score, click here.

Playing without Horford and Morris, both of whom are dealing with knee issues, the scoring burden was back on the shoulders of Irving, who missed Monday’s game with a quad issue. Brad Stevens indicated before the game that Horford would return for Friday’s home game against Utah while Morris is set to see a specialist as early as Thursday for a second opinion on his balky left knee.

Playing their second game of a back-to-back and the final game of a six-game road trip certainly didn’t seem to affect the Nuggets early. Fresh from a double-digit win in Detroit Tuesday, Denver hit their first six shots from the floor and grabbed a 14-8 lead right out of the gate. It was a bit of a struggle for the Celtics early on, as they appeared to be suffering a bit of a hangover from Monday night’s loss in Chicago. It showed on defense and on the glass.

Kenneth Faried had four offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone and powered the Nuggets to a 31-30 lead after the first quarter.

After a rough start in the first quarter, the second unit provided valuable momentum early in the second period, Shane Larkin, Daniel Theis and Terry Rozier provided a spark for a 14-3 run and a 44-36 lead. Larkin was key in the charge, hitting his first four shots and scoring nine points in seven minutes.

The second quarter was a much different story for the Celtics as they outscored the Nuggets, 38-28, to take a 68-59 halftime lead. The 38 points were the most in the second quarter this season.

The Celtics were rolling again, building their lead to 83-74. But then the Celtics fell asleep and allowed Denver to run off an 11-2 spurt to get right back in the game. The Nuggets drove to the basket at will throughout the third quarter, allowing 33 points and watching their lead trimmed to five, 97-92, heading into the fourth. The 92 points were a season-high allowed by the Celtics through three quarters.

The Nuggets kept it close in the fourth thanks to 36 points from Gary Harris but the Celtics were able to fend off the visitors, who finished their road trip with a 2-4 mark.

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Mike Petraglia

Joined CLNS Media in 2017. Covered Boston sports as a radio broadcaster, reporter, columnist and TV and video talent since 1993. Covered Boston Red Sox for MLB.com from 2000-2007 and the New England Patriots for ESPN Radio, WBZ-AM, SiriusXM, WEEI, WEEI.com and CLNS since 1993. Featured columnist for the Boston Celtics on CelticsBlog.

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