Sunday night’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets pitted the NBA’s Eastern and Western conference leaders and MVP contenders Jayson Tatum against Nikola Jokic. However, the showdown was overshadowed by a crooked rim, resulting in a delay of around 35 minutes.
Boston’s Robert Williams III looked like the culprit after hanging to the rim following a hard dunk with 8:06 left in the fourth quarter. Immediately, the rim was tilted slightly to the left.
After a timeout with 6:43 remaining, officials called the arena crew to level the rim after the Nuggets led 110-97. Celtics guard Jaylen Brown objected.
“There was no communication. .
“It affects the game. Injuries and such happen that way. Fortunately, it didn’t happen.” [happen], but it was not good. In my opinion, that whole process was handled poorly and that was also affecting me. But luckily no one was hurt.”
The players warmed up and jumped as Jokic and Denver teammate Aaron Gordon jogged from sideline to sideline. Players were allowed a short warm-up before play resumed, after which the Nuggets pulled away.
Denver guard Bones Hyland said the delay was “crazy.” “I’ve never been in that game before. We were just loose and trying to finish the game.”
Williams said he had never done anything like it.
“I didn’t know I did it until my teammates started blaming me,” he said.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone called the situation a “buzzkill.”
“There’s a joke there, how many guys does it take to fix a rim in an NBA game?” he said.
Jokic had 30 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists while the Nuggets led by 18 points in 2 hours and 40 minutes. He hit 10 of 13 shots from the field, as well as his second consecutive triple-double and all eight free throws for his ninth of the season. Bruce Brown added his 21 points for the Nuggets, and from the floor he shot 57 percent and made 17 of his 30 three-pointers.
“He’s my MVP,” Bruce Brown said of Jokic. I don’t know where we are.”
Denver won its 10th in 12 games, taking the skid in six games against Boston and taking a one-game lead in the West.
Jaylen Brown scored 30 points, Tatum shrugged off a slow start to add 25, and Boston shot just 9/33 from 3-point range to start four games. The loss snapped the Celtics to his fourth straight win and cut his lead in the East to just 1.5 games.
Many Celtics fans started shouting “MVP! MVP!” when Tatum entered the foul line late in the second quarter. Nuggets fans roared back with MVP chants as Jokic lined up.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.