Celtics beat Nuggets in triple-overtime thriller

Although a massive snowstorm buried the city of Boston over the weekend, the Celtics faithful still came out to TD Garden on Sunday.

They witnessed a classic.

And losing Rajon Rondo has yet to cause any concerns in Beantown.

Paul Pierce had a triple-double with 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists as the Boston Celtics extended their winning streak to seven and snapped the Denver Nuggets' nine-game stretch in their thrilling 118-114 triple- overtime triumph.

"Two more and we would've caught Notre Dame and Louisville," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers joked, speaking of Saturday's five-overtime battle between the Irish and Cardinals.

The two teams needed extra time after Denver's Ty Lawson got his running bank shot to go with eight-tenths of a second remaining in regulation.

Boston's Jeff Green hit a left corner 3-pointer in the first overtime with 23.8 seconds to go to send the game into a second extra session and Pierce's step-back left wing triple with 5.2 ticks left in double OT put another five minutes on the clock.

With the Nuggets trailing by two late in the third overtime, Andre Miller misfired on a pull-up right wing trey with less than five seconds remaining and Kevin Garnett secured the rebound and fed Jason Terry, who had nothing but parquet floor in front of him before converting a layup at the horn.

Denver didn't take its first lead of the contest until 1:43 was left in regulation.

When Rondo got hurt, the Celtics' season appeared to be on the verge of falling apart. Rondo's season-ending knee injury occurred in the final game of a six-game slide.

But Boston has responded with its longest winning streak of the season.

Terry netted 26 points off the bench and Garnett added 20 points, 18 boards and six assists for the Celtics, who hadn't been in a triple-overtime game since Game 6 of a first-round series against the Chicago Bulls in 2009.

Lawson tallied 29 points and nine assists, while Danilo Gallinari chipped in 18 points and 10 rebounds for Denver, which came in to the tilt with the NBA's longest winning stretch.

That distinction now belongs to the Celtics.

"We're playing against one of the hottest in the league, on our home court," Pierce said of the Nuggets. "It's definitely a satisfying win."

Boston led by as many as 12 in the third before heading into the final frame of regulation with a 78-70 spread, but Denver began the fourth on an 8-0 spurt to knot the contest. The Celtics responded with the next seven as Avery Bradley's triple gave the hosts an 85-78 margin near the midway point of the stanza.

A bit later, Lawson capped a 10-2 Nuggets swing with a jumper for the visitors' first lead, but it didn't last long as Kenneth Faried was whistled for a technical after the play and Terry sunk the ensuing free throw.

Green's jumper with 47.9 seconds left in the quarter was followed by Lawson's banker.

Miller's step-back jumper with 1:30 to go in the first overtime gave the Nuggets a three-point edge before Green's triple knotted the contest at 99-99 to send it into another period.

Gallinari's layup midway through the second extra session gave Denver its largest spread of four at 103-99, but Boston countered with the next four as Green hit a running hook and Garnett knocked down a jumper to square it at 103-103 with 58.8 left in the frame.

A pair of jumpers by Gallinari and Lawson were sandwiched around Pierce splitting two free throws, which put the Nuggets up 107-104 with 18.9 ticks on the clock.

But with Miller in his face, Pierce rose up and nailed the game-tying trey at the other end.

Gallinari's high-arching, step-back 3-pointer over Garnett at the top of the key tied the game at 113-113 in the third overtime with 1:56 left, but Terry hit a three on Boston's ensuing trip down the floor with 1:33 to play.

Gallinari then split a pair from the charity stripe before Garnett missed a jumper, but Terry stole Miller's pass with 34.9 to go. Pierce misfired on a turnaround jumper with 13.9 to play, and Faried corralled the board, but Miller's pull-up triple was off the mark and Boston survived.

"Very few times when you lose do you think it's probably a good thing, and I thought we played as well as we can play with the circumstances," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We played with a lot of heart, a lot of guts, we took a lot of punches and fought back every time."

The Celtics led 29-19 after a quarter of play, but Denver outscored the hosts 27-21 in the second to pull within 50-48 at the break.

Game Notes

Denver's nine-game streak was its longest since going on a 10-game run from March 30-April 15, 2005 ... Boston has won six straight home games ... The Nuggets suffered their first overtime defeat in four tries this season ... Denver's Andre Iguodala left the game in the third quarter with a right cervical strain and did not return.