BOSTON -- The teams with the two longest active winning streaks in the NBA got together at TD Garden on Sunday night, and it seemed only fitting they would need five extra minutes to decide a winner.
But TEN extra minutes?
Jason Terry, who missed his first five shots in extra time, nailed a 3-pointer with 1:33 left, then stole the ball from Andre Miller as the Celtics earned their seventh straight win, a 118-114 triple-overtime triumph that ended Denver's nine-game run.
Miller, who had 15 points, six assists and five rebounds off the bench, missed a 3-pointer that could have given the Nuggets the lead in the closing seconds. Terry (26 points off the bench) hit a meaningless layup at the buzzer.
Paul Pierce, who set up Terry's winning shot, had a triple-double, compiling 27 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds in a whopping 54 minutes. Kevin Garnett, playing a season-high 47 minutes, hit three jumpers in the third overtime and finished with 20 points, 18 rebounds and six assists.
Ty Lawson's basket with 0.8 seconds left in regulation, after a controversial out-of-bounds call, forced the first overtime, while Jeff Green's 3-pointer from the left corner with 23.8 seconds left sent the game to the second OT. Pierce, who missed a critical free throw with 32.5 second left in the second OT, forced the third with a contested 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds remaining.
Lawson led Denver (33-19) with 29 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Danilo Gallinari had 18 points, including a deep 3-pointer that tied the game at 113-113, and 10 rebounds, while Kenneth Faried posted 14 points and 12 boards.
Terry's winning 3-pointer was Boston's 13th of the game, on 30 tries.
The Celtics (27-23) blew an 11-point, third-quarter lead but managed to move to 5-4 in overtime games.
Denver suffered its first OT defeat in four tries.
The Nuggets rallied after losing Andre Iguodala, who suffered a right cervical strain in the third quarter and didn't return.
The Nuggets turned the ball over five times and didn't score for the first 4:15 of the game as the Celtics built an early 12-0 lead. Denver answered with nine straight points to keep from getting blown away.
The lead was back up to 10 by the end of the quarter, the Celtics credited (generously) with 11 assists on 11 baskets in the quarter.
Boston was up by 10 with three minutes left in the second quarter, but the Nuggets had a 10-4 run in the final 2:46 to trail by just four at the break. Pierce had a brilliant third quarter, but Boston couldn't shake the visitors.
NOTES: The Nuggets continue their pre-All-Star break four-game road trip at Toronto on Tuesday and then visit Brooklyn on Wednesday. The Celtics play at Charlotte on Monday night and host Chicago on Wednesday. ... Boston coach Doc Rivers tried hard to get a practice in Saturday, but it just couldn't happen due to a blizzard, so he brought the players in early Sunday for a walk-through in preparation for a team the Celtics had not seen this season. Boston visits Denver on Feb. 19. ... Boston rookie center Fab Melo got a game in with Maine of the Development League and was back with the Celtics. He scored his first two NBA points Thursday night, but he didn't play Sunday.