Dig this: Celtics outlast Nuggets in 3OT, 118-114

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Dig this: Celtics outlast Nuggets in 3OT, 118-114

BOSTON For the fans of the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets who braved the elements and trekked out to the TD Garden Sunday night, they got their money's worth.

Boston and Denver put on a triple-overtime thriller that left everyone feeling good except the Nuggets who could not muster up enough big plays down the stretch and left with a 118-114 triple-overtime loss.

Paul Pierce had his second triple-double of the season with 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists while Jason Terry came off the bench to score a season-high 26 points. Boston also got a strong game and some clutch baskets from Jeff Green who had 17 points to go with four rebounds.

The Celtics (27-23) have now won a season-high seven straight, and in doing so ended the Nuggets (33-19) winning streak at nine in a row.

In the third overtime period, it was clear that Kevin Garnett was fed up with this game taking so long.

He went into "I got this" mode, scoring Boston's first six points to put the C's ahead 113-110. Garnett finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds in addition to six assists.

But as well as Garnett played to start the third overtime, the Nuggets once again had an answer.

Danilo Gallinari drilled a high-arcing 3-pointer over Garnett's outstretched hands to tie the game at 113.

And right back came the Celtics with a big shot from Terry to put Boston ahead 116-113 with 1:33 to play.

Gallinari had a pair of free throws with 1:13 to play, making the second to cut Boston's lead to 116-114.

Following a 3-point miss by Andre Miller, the Celtics got the loose ball that wound up in Terry's hands for an uncontested lay-up as time expired.

The game's ending wasn't all that surprising when you consider how it began.

The Celtics could not have drawn up a better start to the game as they opened with the game's first 12 points.

But the Nuggets countered with nine straight of their own.

The Celtics spent the rest of the quarter with a lead, one that they pushed back to double digits (29-19) with a 5-0 spurt to end the first quarter.

Boston's lead remained steady throughout the second quarter, although Denver made multiple mini-spurts that brought them within striking distance.

However, each surge by the Nuggets was matched with a similar push back by the Celtics who took a slim 50-46 lead into the half.

Pierce was on a pace for his second triple-double of the season with nine points, five rebounds and four assists at the half. Kevin Garnett was headed towards his 14th double-double this season with five points and seven rebounds at the half.

Meanwhile the Nuggets were being led by Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson who each had eight first-half points. Faried finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Lawson tallied a game-high 29 points and nine assists.

Webber, Massimino among the Hall of Fame finalists

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Webber, Massimino among the Hall of Fame finalists

NEW ORLEANS - Chris Webber and Rollie Massimino are one step from the Hall of Fame.

The career 20-point-per-game NBA scorer and the coach who led Villanova to a stunning upset of Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA championship game were among the 14 finalists unveiled Saturday for this year's Basketball Hall of Fame induction class.

Webber played 15 seasons with five franchises, plus was part of Michigan's famed "Fab Five" group that headlined college basketball in the early 1990s.

"I don't know what I'm most proud of," said Webber, who averaged 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in his career and was a five-time NBA All-Star. "I'm proud to be in the room with all these great individuals."

Other first-time Hall of Fame finalists include longtime NBA referee Hugh Evans, Connecticut women's star Rebecca Lobo, two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady, five-time All-Star Sidney Moncrief, Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey, Kansas coach Bill Self, and two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

"I still can't believe I'm here," McGrady said. "This is not even a dream come true."

Previous finalists returning to the ballot include star point guard and Olympic gold medalist Tim Hardaway, winningest all-time boys high school coach Robert Hughes, Notre Dame women's coach Muffet McGraw, former Wisconsin coach and four-time Division III national champion Bo Ryan and 10-time AAU women's national champion team Wayland Baptist University.

"We are grateful to the 14 finalists in the Class of 2017 for the impact they have had on the game we cherish," Basketball Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo said. "To be named a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame is an incredible accomplishment."

Inductees will be announced at the Final Four on April 3. Enshrinement ceremonies in Springfield, Massachusetts are scheduled for Sept. 7-9.

Massimino, now an 82-year-old cancer survivor who is still coaching at NAIA school Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida, is a finalist for the first time. His Hall of Fame hopes have been backed by plenty of current and former coaches in recent months - including current Villanova coach Jay Wright, who presented Massimino with a championship ring from the Wildcats' 2016 NCAA title.

"Some days, we do take him for granted," Keiser guard Andrija Sarenac said. "But then you see him on TV so much, you see all these videos made about him, the movies about Villanova and everything, and it just hits you. You realize that he's a legend. I mean, your coach is a walking legend. With the energy and everything he comes in with, it's inspiring."

Finalists need 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee to be enshrined. Among this year's candidates who did not make the finalist group: Muggsy Bogues, Ben Wallace, Kevin Johnson, Maurice Cheeks, Mark Price, Lefty Driesell and Eddie Sutton.

Former New York Times sports writer Harvey Araton and former Turner Sports broadcaster Craig Sager will be recognized during Hall of Fame weekend as this year's Curt Gowdy Media Award recipients.

"A tremendous honor," said Sager's wife Stacy.

This year's lifetime achievement award recipients are former UConn coach Donald "Dee" Rowe and Michael Goldberg, who spent nearly four decades as executive director of the NBA Coaches Association. Goldberg died earlier this year.

"He bridged the gap between ownership and coaches," said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, who spoke about Goldberg on Saturday while wearing a bow tie - one of the signature wardrobe accessories that Goldberg donned for years. "He was just such a great guy."

Thomas on Skills Challenge loss: 'I guess it wasn’t the fourth quarter'

Thomas on Skills Challenge loss: 'I guess it wasn’t the fourth quarter'

NEW ORLEANS – Here’s hoping you got a chance to see Boston’s Isaiah Thomas compete in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday.

Because after yet another defeat, Thomas says he’s calling it quits on the event.

“That’s my last time doing it,” said Thomas who competed in his third Skills Challenge. “I can’t get a win. It’s fun, but it sucks losing. I hate losing no matter what it is.”

And the loss, which came in the semis to Utah’s Gordon Hayward, came about because of Thomas’ inability to knock down a 3-pointer.

“I couldn’t make a shot. I guess it wasn’t the fourth quarter,” quipped Thomas afterwards.

Although each player had their own set of challenges to wade through, Thomas admitted he went on the defensive when both players were trying to move on to the finals with one made 3-pointer.

“I knew he was shooting kind of fast,” Thomas said. “A couple of those shots, I was just trying to hit his ball; I was trying to make sure he didn’t make it.”

Regardless of how the Skills Challenge ended – New York’s Kristaps Porzingis was the winner - it doesn’t take away from what has been a strong start to the season for both Thomas and the Celtics.

But he understands the challenge that awaits him and the Celtics going forward as they try to continue rolling along as one of the top teams in the NBA despite having a roster that has been riddled with injuries this season.

“We’re like a next man … everybody has a next man up mentality,” Thomas said. “We don’t use excuses on why we lose games or why players are out, stuff like that. We don’t think about it when players are out.  When we know somebody’s out, it’s like, ‘OK, next man up. We have to take advantage.’”