Kyrie Irving

Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports

Celtics 111, Nuggets 110: Jaylen Brown 3-pointer could be start of something big for C's

John Tomase
January 30, 2018 - 12:10 am

The quote-unquote "best loss of the season" needed to be followed by a win, and after some anxious moments, the Celtics delivered.

Two nights after losing a slugfest to the Warriors in a battle of conference leaders, the Celtics took the floor in Denver on Monday, where they promptly built and then blew a 20-point lead. But Jaylen Brown broke 108-108 tie in the final minute with a corner 3-pointer on a feed from Al Horford, and the Celtics held on for a 111-110 victory over the Nuggets that could mark the start of a nice little run now before some pivotal conference matchups next week.

The C's finished a West Coast trip with a 2-2 record. They'll have a chance to string together some wins over the next week, with the Knicks, Hawks, and Blazers visiting Boston. If the season ended today, the Knicks would miss the playoffs and the Hawks would have the best odds in the NBA draft lottery. The Blazers are solid, but beatable.

That would give the Celtics a potential four-game winning streak entering key contests on the road against Eastern Conference contenders Toronto and Washington next week.

While Brown hit the shot that won Monday's game, the Celtics were paced, again, by guard Kyrie Irving, who led the way with 27 points and six assists. Rookie Jayson Tatum, who had been mired in a minor slump, added 20 points and six rebounds, while Daniel Theis came off the bench to knock down three 3-pointers en route to 11 points and a game-high plus-16 plus-minus.

The Celtics desperately needed this one after sounding like they had turned a corner in Saturday's 109-105 loss to the Warriors. While that game technically extended a stretch of five losses in six games, it also represented their best effort in a couple of weeks, with Steph Curry's individual 49-point brilliance ultimately the difference. This time around, the Celtics rallied from a fourth quarter deficit before holding off the hosts.