Meanwhile, Boston shared the ball well, amassing 26 assists.
“We rewarded guys for running more than we have in the last few weeks. We rewarded guys from cutting more than we have in the last few weeks,” coach Brad Stevens said.
That was particularly noticeable by the Celtics’ bench, which provided a huge jolt in outscoring Denver’s reserves 30-14.
Rookie Aaron Nesmith had some of his best minutes of the season, finishing with nine points, four rebounds and a block. He also helped keep several possessions alive, in one instance in the fourth quarter by diving to save a ball near the sideline. The effort led to three-point play on the Celtics’ next possession by rookie Payton Pritchard.
“I think it was momentum changer,” Nesmith said. “Plays like that always get the team hype. … We kind of took that and ran with it.”
Pritchard and Robert Williams were also active with eight points each.
Nuggets: Malone was whistled for a technical foul in the first quarter. … P.J. Dozier (strained right hamstring), Garry Harris (muscle strain) and Will Barton III (personal reasons) all sat.
Celtics: Daniel Theis sat with a sprained right index finger, along with Marcus Smart (left calf tear) and Romeo Langford (right wrist surgery rehab).
Tatum acknowledged after the team’s morning shootaround that he has been dealing with lingering effects from his COVID-19 diagnosis last month that sidelined him for two weeks.
He said he’s had some respiratory issues that have caused him to tire more quickly at times since his return to action on Jan. 25. The 23 minutes he played in Boston’s loss to Washington tied a season low. He’s also struggled with his shot during Boston’s recent skid, shooting a season-worst 21% (3 of 14) against the Wizards.
Tatum played 33 minutes Tuesday, which is closer to his season average of 35 minutes.
Nuggets: At Wizards on Wednesday.
Celtics: Host Hawks on Wednesday
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