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BOSTON (AP) - Kris Humphries came off the bench to score a season-high 18 points and grab seven rebounds, and the Boston Celtics ran off the first 14 points of the game Friday night before holding on for a 106-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Jordan Crawford had 22 points and eight assists, and Avery Bradley scored 18 for Boston, which won its second straight game to remain in first place in the Atlantic Division despite a 9-12 record that would rank no better than fifth in any division in the Western Conference.
Ty Lawson scored 20 points and J.J. Hickson had 17 for Denver.
The Nuggets had won seven straight games but have now lost two in a row to Cleveland and Boston, two Eastern Conference teams that were at or below a .400 winning percentage.
The Celtics opened the game with a 14-0 run, getting six of Bradley's 13 first-quarter points in the first 4 minutes, before Hickson made one of two free throws with 7:20 left for Denver's first point. Boston expanded the lead to 24 by scoring 12 of the last 13 points in the quarter, including a 30-foot 3-pointer by Crawford just before the buzzer.
In all, Denver shot 23.8 percent in the first, getting just two baskets from the starters, while falling behind 39-15. Boston shot 65.4 percent to match a season high for points in a quarter it set in the fourth during Tuesday night's victory over Milwaukee; the Celtics topped their season high for a half, taking a 64-44 lead into the break.
The Nuggets scored the first nine points of the second half _ six from Hickson _ during a 16-2 run that made it 66-60 with 8:38 left in the third. They eventually cut it to three points before Humphries made a pair of baskets and Bradley hit a 3 to make it 83-73 with just more than 2 minutes left in the quarter.
NOTES: Before the game, the Celtics observed a moment of silence for South African president Nelson Mandela, calling him "a friend of the NBA." ... Nuggets guard Nate Robinson, a member of the Celtics when they made the NBA Finals in 2010, got a smattering of applause when he came off the bench in the first quarter. ... With the back-to-back losses, Denver fell to 5-2 against the East.
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