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BOSTON – Things appeared pretty grim for the Boston Celtics just a few weeks ago.
Rajon Rondo went down with a torn knee ligament, and the team's playoff hopes took a major hit.
Well, the Celtics haven't lost in the seven games since and their latest victory proved they're going to be tough to beat — even without their star point guard. Paul Pierce had 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists and the Celtics extended their winning streak to seven games with a 118-114 triple overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.
"Lots of people still doubt us," Jeff Green said. "Can't come into games thinking we have to impress people."
But they were plenty impressive in to pull this one off — especially since it ended Denver's winning streak at nine games.
Pierce made a tying 3-pointer in the second overtime to make it 107-107 and extend the game.
"I mean that's what great players do. I would love to tell you I had something to do with it," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I was sitting just like the fans saying, "Please, Lord. Paul make a shot."
Kevin Garnett had 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, while Jason Terry scored a season-high 26 points off the bench.
"It seems like Garnett has a huge heart and wanted to win the game and he made some big-time shots," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "His range has improved and it's about time he get that respect."
Pierce, Garnett and Terry are the only active Celtics with championship rings since Rondo's season-ending knee injury on Jan. 25, a 123-111 loss at Atlanta — Boston's sixth straight defeat. The Celtics haven't lost since.
Terry hit a 3-pointer with 1:33 remaining in the third overtime to put the Celtics ahead 116-113. Danilo Gallinari, who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, hit a free throw, but Denver would not get any closer.
"Hard to believe these guys don't have an All-Star," Garnett said of the Nuggets. "That baffles me. Gallinari, Lawson. They have deserving guys."
Terry, who had missed five consecutive 3-point shots in the first two overtimes, also made the defensive play of the game when he stole the ball from Andre Miller with 35 seconds remaining.
Denver had one last gasp as Miller missed a 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds remaining before Terry dribbled the ball up the court and made a layup at the buzzer to finish the scoring.
"We're not into moral victories, but it was one of those games," Miller said. "It was a fun game and I'm sure everybody was tired."
Denver's Ty Lawson had 29 points, nine assists and six rebounds and hit several key shots, including a running bank shot to send the game into overtime tied at 92-92.
Gallinari struggled from the field as he shot 7 of 20 for the Nuggets. Kenneth Faried had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Denver.
Garnett was 3 of 4 from the field in overtime after missing 14 of his previous 20 shots.
With Denver leading 105-104 in the second overtime, Lawson hit another jumper to put the Nuggets up 107-104 with 18.9 seconds remaining.
But Pierce hit a 3-pointer with Miller in his face with 5 seconds left to tie it at 107.
Gallinari then had an open lane to the basket as he was overplayed by Garnett, but missed his shot as time ran out.
Green's 3-pointer tied the game at 99 with 23.8 seconds remaining in the first overtime, but Lawson's long 3-pointer fell short at the buzzer.
Denver failed to hit its last shot in all three overtimes with chances to win the game in the first two and to tie it in the third.
Green's jumper put Boston ahead 92-90 with 47.9 seconds remaining in regulation. Miller then missed consecutive shots on the ensuing Denver possessions, but Faried was fouled with 5.4 seconds remaining.
Faried missed both free throws, but Celtics guard Avery Bradley knocked the ball out of bounds. Lawson then scored with 0.8 seconds remaining.
Gallinari, who averages 20 points per game to lead Denver, was held to three points in the first half on 1-of-6 shooting as the Nuggets trailed 50-46 at the break.
Notes: Pierce and Lawson each played 54 minutes respectively. ... JaVale McGee had 16 rebounds for Denver. ... Boston is 13-2 in its past 15 home games against Denver, but the teams are 10-10 head-to-head in the past 20. ... Boston matches up again on the road with Denver on Feb. 19. ... This had been the Nuggets' longest winning streak since March 30 to April 15, 2005. ... Andre Iguodala left the game for Denver in the third quarter and did not return.