Celtics-Nuggets Preview

The Associated Press

As miserable as things were going during an eight-game losing streak, the Denver Nuggets are having that much fun now that they've gone in the opposite direction.

The Nuggets have recaptured their early season form offensively, something they hope to continue Tuesday night when they host the slumping Boston Celtics.

After winning its first two games in December, Denver lost 10 of its final 13 that month and had its losing streak extended to eight with a 114-102 defeat to Philadelphia on New Year's Day.

The Nuggets (16-17) lost by an average of 12.1 points during that skid and averaged 93.4 points on 41.5 percent shooting and 29.3 percent from 3-point range in the 14-game span.

The offense, however, has been revitalized in the past two games, totaling 248 points on 53.6 percent from the field and 21-of-51 shooting from beyond the arc in a pair of victories.

"Two-game win streak, but it's night and day from what it was prior to those last two games," said coach Brian Shaw, whose club had scored 105.3 per game on 45.9 percent shooting and a 38.5 3-point percentage during an 11-6 start.

Denver poured in 77 second-half points Sunday en route to its highest point total since Nov. 28, 2010, as it snapped a three-game road losing streak with a 137-115 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Nate Robinson led seven players in double figures with 21 points, while Ty Lawson and Timofey Mozgov each added 20.

With Andre Miller on personal leave after clashing with Shaw on the bench Wednesday, Robinson has totaled 36 points, 12 assists and six 3-pointers over the last two games.

Miller was set to return to the team Monday, though he's been the subject of trade rumors.

According to reports, the Celtics (13-21) are close to acquiring Jerryd Bayless from Memphis for Courtney Lee in an exchange of guards. It's uncertain whether Bayless, averaging 8.1 points, would be available against the Nuggets.

Since scoring 12.1 per game over a seven-game stretch after missing two because of a left hamstring strain, Lawson has averaged 19.8 points in his last five contests.

He's scored 25.0 per game and shot 7 for 13 from long range in his last three meetings with Boston. Lawson had 26 points, six rebounds and six assists in the most recent matchup in Denver, a 97-90 victory Feb. 19.

The Celtics have allowed 105.8 points and a 49.4 field-goal percentage during their four-game road losing streak.

They surrendered a season-high point total Sunday while allowing Oklahoma City to shoot 51.8 percent overall and 9 for 19 from beyond the arc in a 119-96 loss in the opener of a five-game West trip.

"One of the things we've got to do as a group is when things don't go well, we've got to collect ourselves quicker and make things go in our favor again," coach Brad Stevens said.

Jeff Green and Avery Bradley had 19 points apiece and Jordan Crawford chipped in with 17 as the Celtics lost for the seventh time in eight games.

Crawford has scored 17.9 per game while making 17 of 40 from 3-point range in his last seven road games. He had 22 points and eight assists while shooting 9 for 13 from the field in a 106-98 win over visiting Denver on Dec. 6.

Bradley and Kris Humphries totaled 36 points on 16-of-22 shooting as Boston posted a 51.8 field-goal percentage in that contest.

The Celtics, however, have slumped offensively lately with 90.5 points and a 40.5 field-goal percentage over their last six games.

They've dropped four in a row and eight of nine meetings in Denver.

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