Nuggets Beat Up by Boston

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

DENVER - (AP) The Boston Celtics are doing just fine without Kevin Garnett.

They handed the Nuggets one of the worst home losses in their history Monday night, routing Denver 114-76 behind 26 points from Ray Allen and 22 from Paul Pierce. It was Boston's second game since Garnett strained a muscle in his right knee that is expected to sidelined him for at least two weeks.

Rajon Rondo, coming off a career-high 32 points in Boston's 20-point win at Phoenix on Sunday, added 14 points for the Celtics, who raced to a 60-37 halftime lead that rendered the second half a let's-get-it-over-with exercise.

This was Denver's worst home loss since Feb. 2, 1998, when the Nuggets were routed by Chicago 111-72. The 38-point margin of defeat tied for the second-biggest home loss since Denver joined the NBA in 1976.

J.R. Smith had 19 points and Carmelo Anthony 18 for the Nuggets, who lost for the third time in four nights and saw their lead over second-place Portland trimmed to a single game in the suddenly up-for-grabs Northwest Division. Third-place Utah has sliced its six-game deficit in half in five nights.

Reserve Leon Powe added 16 points for Boston, which stretched its lead to 86-58 heading into the fourth quarter. Allen's four-point play gave Boston a 92-59 lead as fans starting streaming to the exits.

While the Celtics didn't miss KG, the Nuggets longed for their big man, Nene, who is expected to miss a week with a bruised right knee he injured Sunday night at Milwaukee.

Johan Petro made his first start for Denver and grabbed five quick rebounds in 8 1/2 minutes. Then Petro sat on the sideline as the Nuggets, coming off a three-week, eight-game trip around the All-Star break, quickly fell behind by double digits, their fatigue and frazzled nerves exposed by the hot-shooting Celtics.

So flustered were the Nuggets that they lost their cool at the end of the first half. Chauncey Billups, usually the picture of calm, drew a technical foul for saying something unflattering to the officials following a questionable call against teammate Kenyon Martin.

Billups was frustrated over a terrible first half in which he had just one point, three turnovers and two fouls.

Then Martin was whistled for a flagrant foul on Allen, who sank the free throws before Pierce swished a 3-pointer to cap a 10-0 spurt that gave the Celtics a 59-36 lead.


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