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Irving returns, Celtics beat Nuggets

The Sports Xchange

December 14. 2017 12:57AM
Celtics center Aron Baynes goes to the basket past Denver's Mason Plumlee during the second quarter of Boston's 124-118 win Wednesday night at TD Garden. (USA TODAY Sports)

BOSTON — Kyrie Irving, returning from a one-game absence with a quad bruise, scored 33 points and Jaylen Brown added 26 to power the Boston Celtics to a 124-118 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Aron Baynes had 17 points as the Celtics overcame a career-high 36 points by Gary Harris and 28 by Jamal Murray to win a battle between teams hit by the injury bug.

The Nuggets, finishing a six-game road trip, came in with four players averaging between 15.1 and 15.6 points per game and were missing three of them. Paul Millsap (wrist), Nikola Jokic (ankle) and Will Barton (back) are averaging a combined 46.4 points, 22.1 rebounds and 11.2 assists.

The Celtics, who lost Gordon Hayward in the opening game, were resting Al Horford (knee) and Marcus Morris (knee) is also out.

Irving dished out seven assists, Jayson Tatum scored 15 points and Shane Larkin added 14 in 17½ minutes as the Celtics (24-6), despite being outrebounded 48-30, rolled up a season high in points. Larkin was 6 for 6 from the floor and 2 for 2 from 3-point range.

Larkin scored nine points in 2:36 of the second quarter and had five points, a steal and a block during a 9-0 run early in the fourth. He was a plus-14.

Mason Plumlee scored 15 points and Wilson Chandler 14 for the Nuggets (15-13), who finished 2-4 on their trip.

Marcus Smart had nine assists for Boston while Kenneth Faried came off the bench to record 10 rebounds for Denver.

Notes: Hayward, who suffered a broken left tibia and dislocated ankle in the season opener, discarded his walking boot Wednesday and will stay out of it depending on how his foot responds. “Today has been awesome without the boot,” he said. He is slated to miss the rest of the season but there has been talk of a late-season return. ... Denver’s Will Barton, who suffered a lower-back contusion in Detroit Tuesday night, was able to play. ... Celtics players and staff will sing and do crafts at Boston Children’s Hospital today. ... The Nuggets go home to meet the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday but then have three of their next four on the road. The Celtics host the Utah Jazz on Friday and visit Memphis on Saturday night, completing a stretch of five games in seven nights.