Through all of the trade rumors and speculation, the NBA has found time to put on some high-profile basketball games.
In a battle between two of the hottest teams in the NBA, the Denver Nuggets picked up a 97-90 victory over the Boston Celtics. Denver is now 34-21 overall, 23-3 at home and 10-3 in their past 13.
Boston, meanwhile, falls to 28-25 overall, 8-16 on the road and 8-2 over their past 10 games.
As for the game itself, the first quarter opened up with a bang. Boston's Avery Bradley quickly put up 12 points, while Denver's Danilo Gallinari responded with nine to bring the Nuggets to within 22-21 at the end of the quarter.
Bradley finished with 17 for the game, while Gallo dropped 26.
In the second quarter, it was Courtney Lee who provided the scoring punch, while Brandon Bass worked the glass. It was this work by the unsung heroes that enabled the Celtics to score 28 second-quarter points.
As Kevin Garnett found his stroke, it appeared as if the Celtics would pull away.
With Andre Miller leading the charge, Denver managed to match Boston's production and put up 28 second-quarter points of their own. Miller came up with buckets and assists at every turn, accounting for seven of 10 points from the 6:54 to 5:20 marks.
As a result, Denver trailed by just one point at the half.
Gallinari and Ty Lawson combined for 15 third-quarter points. Together, they created a nine-point margin that led to an eight-point lead at the conclusion of the quarter.
Paul Pierce going cold certainly didn't help:
Paul Pierce said he didn't pick up a basketball at all during the AS break and it looks like it. 2-13 shooting, 10 points.— gary washburn (@GwashNBAGlobe) February 20, 2013
Pierce finished with 10 points, six rebounds and six assists on 2-of-14 shooting.
Led by Jeff Green, Boston found a way to make things interesting come the fourth quarter. Green had a posterizing block and scored nine points in the final period of play.
Unfortunately, it was a familiar story in the end—Lawson and Gallinari stepping up to down the Celtics.
Garnett missed a pair of free throws with 3:40 remaining, and the Celtics missed a golden opportunity to cut the deficit to one possession. That proved to be the dagger.
Even as Boston held Denver without a field goal for the final 2:38, the Nuggets converted at the free-throw line and moved to 23-3 at home.
Co-Player of the Game: Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets
Ty Lawson finished with 26 points, six assists and six rebounds on 8-of-13 shooting. Danilo Gallinari dropped 26 points, five assists and five rebounds on 7-of-17 shooting.
Gallo went 4-of-9 from three while Lawson hit 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. The Italian went 8-of-11 from the free-throw line and the former UNC star hit 8-of-10.
Enough. We're giving co-Player of the Game honors.
Lawson and Gallinari were a two-man wrecking crew. They combined for 26 second-half points and willed Denver to a much-needed win to break a three-game losing streak.
A huge game from Denver's rising stars.
What's Next for the Boston Celtics?
There will be no rest for the Boston Celtics, as they travel to California to play the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 20. The Celtics defeated their rival Lakers on Feb. 7 by a score of 116-95.
Feb. 20 will be their only other regular-season game against L.A. this season.
What's Next for the Denver Nuggets?
After their grueling win over the Celtics, the Denver Nuggets now prepare for a Feb. 22 showdown at the 15-37 Washington Wizards. Denver is 11-18 on the road and 11-10 against the Eastern Conference in 2012-13.
The Nuggets lost 112-108 to the Wizards on Jan. 18.