BOSTON -- Known more these days for being a former member of the Kardashian family than for his basketball exploits, Kris Humphries has been patient.
Friday night, one of the forgotten pieces of the enormous trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from Boston to Brooklyn, made his patience pay off.
Playing a season-high 24 minutes, the forward scored a season-high 18 points and seven rebounds, adding two assists and a blocked shots as the Celtics -- the first-place Boston Celtics -- defeated the Denver Nuggets 106-98.
"I've been around him for 2 1/2 years, the one thing about him is he's always going to be ready," said forward Gerald Wallace, who also came over from Brooklyn in the mega deal.
Humphries, averaging 4.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game coming in, helped the Celtics to a 27-point first-half lead then helped again when the Nuggets shot back to within three points in the third quarter. He had three straight Boston baskets and four in the final four minutes of the third quarter.
"It feels great," said Humphries, who was 8-for-11 from the floor. "You know, you practice and practice, you cheer your team on and everyone in this spot wants to contribute, and everyone in here can contribute. So when you get your opportunity, you have to make the most of it."
Said rookie Boston coach Brad Stevens: "It's easy to be the guy talking about it, it's easy to be the guy that is paying attention to it, it's hard to be the guy going through it ... You're going to have guys that have to step up at different times and Kris is playing great."
The Celtics scored the first 14 points of the game and never trailed. Boston's fifth win in the last seven games improved the record to 9-12. That's a first-place record in the Atlantic, folks.
Guard Jordan Crawford scored 22 points and added eight assists and four rebounds to lead five Celtics in double figures. Guard Avery Bradley also had 18 points, including 15 in the first half, and forwards Jeff Green and Brandon Bass scored 15 and 14 points, respectively. Bass also had eight rebounds.
The loss was Denver's second straight after a seven-game winning streak.
Rookie coach Brian Shaw knew something was wrong right at the start -- a 14-0 hole will cue a coach on such things.
"I took a 20-second timeout very, very early in the first quarter because I felt it and I could sense and see it, but it didn't do any good," said Shaw, a former Celtic. "We still continued to play with that kind of laid-back, casual attitude.
"Their team is a lot like ours. They don't have a superstar on their team, we don't have a superstar on our team. But the team that plays hardest is going to give them a better chance to win, and that's what they did tonight from beginning to end, and that's why they won the game."
Guard Ty Lawson led six Nuggets in double figures with 20 points.
"We can't start the way we start and let teams get too comfortable, because that kind of dictates the game," said JJ Hickson, a forward playing center who had 17 points and seven rebounds in the loss.
After scoring 39 points in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night's win over Milwaukee, the Celtics scored 39 points in the first quarter Friday night, opening the game by shooting 7-for-9 in the 14-0 run. They were 17-for-26 from the floor in the quarter, turning the ball over just once (five times in the first half, 10 in the game).
NOTES: Denver G Nate Robinson, a former Celtic, was fined $25,000 by the NBA for comments he made about officials after getting a technical foul in New York on Nov. 29. According to the Denver Post, Robinson said, "They hate me, they hate me. I don't know why, but it is what it is. I already know I've got the target on my back, but I'll play through it. I don't care. I really don't. It doesn't bother me none." ... Celtics rookie F/C Kelly Olynyk missed his seventh straight game with a right ankle sprain but is close to returning. "He'll probably be out Sunday (in New York against the Knicks). He'll be day-to-day starting next week," Stevens said before the game. "Tuesday might be a stretch, it might not be. I don't know. But he's close to being back." ... The Nuggets finish their six-game road trip at Philadelphia on Saturday and Washington on Monday. ... The Celtics observed a pre-game moment of silence for Nelson Mandela. ... After the two games in New York, the Celtics host their old coach, Doc Rivers, and the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.