DENVER - A career-high 48 points from Jamal Murray led the Denver Nuggets to their ninth win of the season as the Boston Celtics once again struggled to make shots from beyond the arc. The Celtics drop to 6-4, the Nuggets are now 9-1.
After a hot start in which Boston scored 34 points in the first quarter which gave them a 34-19 lead over Denver, the Celtics cooled off after the first 15 minutes of play and the Nuggets took all of the momentum from thereon.
Despite the typical strong defense from Boston, Denver was locked in, specifically Murray, who shot 19-of-30 from the field (63%), 5-of-11 from 3-point range (45%) and had five rebounds and four assists. The 48 points for Murray were a career-high for the third-year guard. His previous career high was 38.
As if the problematic loss wasn't enough to put some of the Celtics players in a bad mood, a last-second shot attempt by Murray to try and get 50 points at the end of regulation left Kyrie Irving little more salty than the rest of his teammates.
The Celtics shot very poorly from 3-point range. They made 9-of-31 shots from beyond the arc (29%), which is the sixth time this year they have failed to shoot 35 percent or better from 3-point range and the third time they've failed to break 30 percent.
"I thought we got a little ISO-heavy at times but we were driving it, making it to the rim, making extra passes," said Brad Stevens during postgame. "We missed some outside threes, we didn’t shoot it as well from the three but our attack was better. They are a good defensive team and overall I leave here encouraged by our offense and discouraged by one guy who went nuts.”
Boston is now 3-3 on the road, and have lost their second game in a row. Kyrie Irving, who was the leading scorer for the Celtics (31 points, five rebounds, five assists) spoke about what the team can learn from the loss to the second-seeded team in the Western Conference.
"How hard it is to win on the road," he said. "Possessions down the stretch, when it’s a five-point game, seven-point game, even a nine-point game, for us as a team, we have so many plays that we go to and we don’t need to dominate that with three-point shots. An easy two here or getting the clock to stop and having them run another possession could always equate to us getting back in the game. I think down the stretch we shot a few too many threes instead of taking the easy ones.”
The Celtics now rank 15th in the league in 3-point percentage (35.1%) and 26th in the Association is shooting percentage (43%). Those are worrisome numbers for a team that has a deep roster with many shooters on it.
Boston will look to rebound Thursday night when they travel to face the 2-7 Phoenix Suns.