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Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari drops the ball in for a basket as Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnet and guard Avery Bradley watch during the first quarter of the clash in Denver on Tuesday. David Zalubowski / Associated Press
Ty Lawson started the second half of the NBA season the same way he closed the first - on an offensive tear.
Lawson and Danilo Gallinari each scored 26 points and the Denver Nuggets snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Boston Celtics 97-90 on Tuesday night.
Lawson has averaged 27.5 points in his past four games, well above his season average of 15.8 going into the game against the Celtics.
"I'm just attacking, not thinking about whether I should shoot it, not second-guessing my shot," Lawson said. "I'm just trusting myself and it's been working out for me."
And it's also working for the Nuggets, who gained a split of their season series with Boston after losing in triple overtime to the Celtics the week before.
The loss to Boston had ended the Nuggets' season-high nine game winning streak and marked the start of a three-game skid leading up to the All-Star break.
"Tonight, we just didn't close out any quarter very well," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "End of the first, end of the half, the end of the third killed us. They went on their little run to end the game.
"Everybody came into this game wanting to win it and that may have gotten in our way. Each guy wanted to win it instead of trusting the team. We had a great first half, it got away from us in the third and fourth."
Lawson noted that Gallinari (sinus infection) and Andre Iguodala (neck strain), who contributed defensively despite not scoring, returned after missing the previous two games to help make the difference in the rematch with the Celtics.
"Everybody was back," Lawson said. "And it shows how much we've matured as a team, to come back from the All-Star break and beat a team like that."
Andre Miller and Kosta Koufos added 11 points apiece and Kenneth Faried had 16 rebounds to go with his seven points for the Nuggets, who beat Boston for the eighth time in nine games in Denver, including the past four in a row.
"They're one of the better defensive teams in the league and you've got to figure out ways to get baskets," Miller said. "We didn't always shoot the ball the way we wanted to, but we found ways to get some easy baskets and we got to the free-throw line. And we finished off the game the right way."
Jeff Green had 20 points off the bench to lead the Celtics, who have been playing well despite losing Rajon Rondo (torn ACL), Jared Sullinger (back surgery) and Leandro Barbosa (torn ACL) to season-ending injuries over the past month.
Avery Bradley added 17 points and Courtney Lee had 15 for the Celtics, who are still looking for their first win on the road against a Western Conference team this season.
"We got stagnant with ball movement," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "We just didn't make the adjustment. A little too much one-on-one. On the other end, we didn't get key stops. We fouled a little bit too much. Every crucial possession that we needed a stop, we didn't get the stop that we needed and they were able to pull away."
The game was preceded by a moment of silence for Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who died on Monday at 80 ... In a pregame ceremony, Andre Iguodala was presented with his Olympic ring by USA Basketball executive director Jim Tooley. Iguodala, who missed two previous games with a neck strain, was held scoreless on 0-7 shooting in his return ... The Celtics continue a five-game road trip by playing the Lakers on Wednesday in the second of a back-to-back set ... Boston missed a chance to sweep the season series with Denver for the first time since 2003-04.
(China Daily 02/21/2013 page23)