December 7, 2013

Humphries leads Celtics over Nuggets

The little-used Celtic shows what he can do when given the chance.

The Associated Press

BOSTON — Kris Humphries didn’t play 20 minutes in a game for the whole month of November. Five times this season he never got off the bench at all.

He hadn’t scored in double digits in the first 20 games before contributing 18 to the Boston Celtics’ 106-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

And one more thing: He never complained.

“When we’re winning and stuff, I don’t like to focus on me,” Humphries said after the Celtics ran off the first 14 points to win their second straight game and maintain their awkward hold on the Atlantic Division lead. “We’re at the top of the division. That’s all that’s important.”

Jordan Crawford had 22 points and eight assists, and Avery Bradley scored 18 for Boston, which has a 9-12 record that would rank no better than fifth in any division in the Western Conference. Humphries scored eight points in the last 4:30 of the third quarter, when Boston turned back a Denver run that cut the deficit to three points.

“Our starters played fantastic at the start of the game and got us out to a huge lead. In the second half it was our bench that got us back out to the lead,” Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said. “Kris was a big part of that.”

A nine-year veteran who came to Boston in the trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets, Humphries has struggled to find a role on a young, rebuilding team. He has gotten more time since an ankle injury to Kelly Olynyk has kept the first-round draft pick out since Nov. 23.

“He’s done a good job for us,” Stevens said. “I think that speaks to his professionalism, too, because this hasn’t always been easy for him.”

Ty Lawson scored 20 points before leaving late in the third quarter with a left hamstring injury, and J.J. Hickson had 17 for Denver. The Nuggets had won seven straight games but have now lost two in a row to Cleveland and Boston, two Eastern teams that were at or below a .400 winning percentage.

“Second consecutive game in a row that we basically got beat up, got hit first,” Denver Coach Brian Shaw said.

NOTES: Before the game, the Celtics observed a moment of silence for Nelson Mandela, calling him “a friend of the NBA.”

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