DENVER — Kenneth Faried has impressed the Denver Nuggets throughout his rookie season.
“We don’t close this game out without Kenneth,” Denver coach George Karl said. “I was impressed with him the whole game, but I really loved him the last three or four minutes of the game.”
Danilo Gallinari scored 20 points and Faried added 18 points and a career-high 16 rebounds leading the Nuggets past the Boston Celtics 98-91 Saturday night.
“He outworked us, getting 11 rebounds in the first half,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “He had a rebound late in the game that was just an effort rebound where we had inside position and he outran us to the ball.”
It was the sixth double-double in the past 13 games for Faried. Arron Afflalo added 15 points for Denver, which has beaten the Celtics seven of the past eight times in Denver.
“I did all right by playing with my heart,” Faried said and when reminded of his 5-for-5 shooting from the field and 8 of 8 on free throws added, “I’m not content. I want to do better.”
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett had 22 points each for Boston. Rajon Rondo had 12 points and 16 assists.
The Celtics are 2-3 on their eight-game road trip. They were coming off a 120-95 loss at Sacramento.
“They outworked us and it wasn’t about game planning or X’s and O’s,” Pierce said. “They got the loose ball, they got the offensive rebounds and when they tried to make a valiant effort late in the game, it was like climbing uphill.”
Denver nearly lost its lead in the fourth quarter. The Celtics trimmed the deficit to 10, three times in the fourth quarter, the third time when Pierce started a 10-0 run with two free throws that pulled them within 87-77 with 7:18 left.
Pierce’s jumper finished the run to make it 87-85, 16 seconds before fouling out. Faried turned the foul into two free throws.
Ty Lawson’s 3-pointer and a layup by Faried seemed to put the game away and made the game 94-87.
Boston made one last rally. Garnett made four straight free throws to cut it to 94-91, but after forcing two missed shots, Ray Allen missed a jumper with 54 seconds left.
Faried sealed the game with two free throws.
The Nuggets maintained their double-digit halftime lead in the third quarter. Boston made 58 percent of its shots, but made up only one point in the quarter.
Denver extended it to 72-56 on Gallinari’s jumper with 6:32 left. Rondo had two jump shots to get back as close as 79-68, but the Celtics missed their last three shots of the quarter and trailed 80-68.
Gallinari had 15 points and Faried had 11 rebounds and eight points by halftime as the Nuggets built a 55-42 halftime lead. Six of Faried’s points came in the last 4:40 after Boston had closed the gap to six.
Denver turned three turnovers into baskets and Al Harrington’s short jumper put Denver ahead 38-27. Marquis Daniels got the Celtics within 40-34 when Faried made a basket. Faried had two more baskets and Gallinari made a 3-pointer with 7.5 seconds left in the half.
The Celtics struggled at the start, missing nine of their first 14 shots and were behind 29-22 after the first quarter. Denver made 5 of 9, 3-pointers, two by Gallinari.
“I told the team that they can’t ease yourself into a game and then decide you want to join the war in the fourth quarter,” Rivers said. “We were a different team in the fourth quarter when we played with spirit and fight.”
NOTES: Jermaine O’Neal missed his 13th game with a sprained left wrist. “He’s not ready,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said of O’Neal. “Everyone else was ready.” … Including Paul Pierce who twisted his right ankle at the end of Friday’s game in Sacramento. Pierce played 31 minutes before fouling out. .. The Celtics are 6-7 on the second night of back-to-back games. … JaVale McGee was unavailable because Nene’s physical was not complete yet with the Washington Wizards.