BOSTON — The Celtics relied on their veterans to help them win the matchup of the NBA’s two hottest teams.
Forward Paul Pierce compiled 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.
Boston’s win also 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 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 point guard Rajon Rondo’s season-ending knee injury. The Celtics are 7-0 in Rondo’s absence.
Terry made 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 (the Nuggets) guys don’t have an All-Star,” Garnett said. “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, a steal 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, shooting 7-for-20. 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 five seconds left to tie the game 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.
Jeff Green’s 3-pointer tied the game at 99-99 with 23.8 seconds remaining in the first overtime, but Lawson’s long 3-pointer fell short at the buzzer.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
CLIPPERS OVERCOME MELO’S 42 — At New York, Chris Paul scored 25 points in his second game back from injury, and reserve Jamal Crawford had 27 to lift Los Angeles to a 102-88 win over the Knicks. New York’s Carmelo Anthony scored 42 points, his fifth 40-point game of the season, but he made only one basket in the fourth quarter, when 40-year-old Grant Hill came off the bench to defend him.
SHORT-HANDED SPURS ROMP — At New York, Tony Parker had 29 points and 11 assists in another terrific performance without his two sidekicks, and San Antonio dominated the second half to defeat Brooklyn, 111-86. Injured Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili again sat out for the Spurs.
SEFOLOSHA’S 3s FUEL THUNDER — At Phoenix, Thabo Sefolosha hit a career-high five 3-pointers, and Oklahoma City routed Phoenix for the second game in a row, 97-69. The 28-point win followed a 127-96 romp over the Suns on Friday at Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook had 24 points.
MAGIC SNAP 12-GAME SKID — At Orlando, Fla., Nikola Vucevic compiled 17 points and 19 rebounds, and Orlando beat Portland 110-104 to break a 12-game losing streak. The Magic hadn’t won since Jan. 16.
PRINCE HOT FOR GRIZZLIES — At Memphis, Tenn., Tayshaun Prince had 18 points, hitting all eight of his shots from the field, and Memphis pulled away to defeat Minnesota, 105-88.