The Boston Celtics lost Kendrick Perkins and three other players in a series of NBA trades on Thursday. Then, they lost to the Denver Nuggets, who had a shake-up of their own a few days prior. The Nuggets won 89-75 behind 18 points and 10 rebounds from Kenyon Martin and 16 points off the bench from former Knick Wilson Chandler.
The rest of the former Knicks in Denver struggled -- Danilo Gallinari shot 1-6 in his Nugget debut, and Raymond Felton came off the bench for four points on 2-8 shooting. But Martin, Chandler and a suffocating Denver defense -- or an ineffective Boston offense, take your pick -- got the job done. Denver has won two straight since trading Carmelo Anthony this week.
Obviously, the Celtics were reeling. Perkins had been a Celtic his entire career, and was considered one of the team's most beloved players. The Celtics traded Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and a first-round pick. Given that Perkins is a renowned defender and Green is not, it would indicate that at some level Celtics GM Danny Ainge thought his team needed more offense off the bench. Boston's performance in Denver did nothing to dispute that.
The game was tight throughout, with the Celtics holding a 75-73 lead with just six minutes remaining. Boston didn't score again as the Nuggets came up with a 16-0 run to close it out. The Celtics shot 0-8 and committed three turnovers -- two by Ray Allen -- in those final six minutes. The Nuggets, meanwhile, shot 6-9. Typically, Boston's defense gets better as the game wears on. Not the case on Thursday.
The Celtics remain virtually tied with the Heat for the No. 1 seed in the East. The Nuggets are now tied with the Hornets for No. 5 in the West, one game ahead of the Blazers and two games ahead of the Grizzlies.