Notebook: Nuggets 98, Cavaliers 91

Posted Jan 12, 2013 1:29 AM

By Michael Kelly, For

THE FACTS: Danilo Gallinari had 23 points and hit a key 3-pointer in the final minute, Kosta Koufos scored a career-high 21 points and the Denver Nuggets overcame a game-high 28 points from Kyrie Irving to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-91 on Friday.

Kenneth Faried had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Andre Iguodala scored 13 points and added 11 rebounds for the Nuggets (22-16), who won their fourth straight.

Dion Waiters added 18 points and Tristan Thompson scored 16 points for the Cavaliers (9-28), who opened a five-game Western Conference road trip with a loss. Irving added seven assists and five steals after getting out of his sickbed to play 39 minutes.

QUOTABLE: "We were in the game and it started getting excited in the second half."

-- Kyrie Irving

THE STAT: The Nuggets tied a season high with 22 turnovers. It was the fourth time they've had 22 turnovers in a game, and they are 9-0 when committing 20 or more turnovers.

TURNING POINT: Ty Lawson came up big down the stretch despite a poor shooting night. He hit two driving layups in the final minutes, the last one when with 1:48 left that gave Denver the lead for good. He then fed Gallinari for a 3-pointer with 34 seconds remaining that made it 94-89.

QUOTABLE II: "Please don't tell my team that [we are] 9-0 when we have 20 turnovers. You're kidding me. I don't think I'm going to understand that. I don't think I'm going to read that book."

-- Nuggets coach George Karl

HOT: Irving came into the game averaging 27.8 points and 5.5 assists in his last four games. He did nothing to hurt the average Friday, although he did struggle from long range, going 2-for-9 on 3-pointers. He did attempt a career-high 26 shots.

NOT: Cleveland's Alonzo Gee had a game to forget. The forward was 1-for-7 from the field for two points, had five fouls and let an offensive rebound slip through his hands late in the game when the Cavaliers were trying to tie it up.

QUOTABLE III: "The second half, we didn't come out ready to play -- period. We had a chance to win a basketball game. We came out in what I call our 'cool mode.' What happens in this league, being cool will get your [butt] kicked. That's the way we came out and that's what we got."

-- Cleveland coach Byron Scott

GOOD MOVE: After Irving hit a 14-foot jumper over Lawson to give Cleveland a four-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, Karl put Iguodala back in the game. Like he did against Orlando on Wednesday, Iguodala shut down the opponent's best player, holding Irving to five points the rest of the way.

QUOTABLE IV: "It kind of gets me in the game late in the games when I'm attacking on defense and get my hands on [the] ball. Trying to be explosive and close games out on both ends."

-- Andre Iguodala on his defense and overall play in the fourth quarter

BAD MOVE: The Nuggets' big men. They missed four dunks, three by JaVale McGee. His last one was a missed putback that would have pulled Denver within two. Tyler Zeller had a putback dunk on Cleveland's next possession.

ROOKIE WATCH: Waiters continues a strong campaign with his 18 points, 14 of which came in the first half. He has scored in double figures in four of his last six games and is averaging 14.5 points a game in January.

NOTABLE: Cavaliers forward Luke Walton returned to the team after missing two games for personal reasons. ... Koufos set a career high with field goals (10) and attempts (17). His previous highs were eight and 11, respectively. ... Denver outrebounded Cleveland 56-35.

UP NEXT: For the Cavaliers, Sunday @ L.A. Lakers, Monday @ Sacramento, Wednesday @ Portland. For the Nuggets, Sunday vs. Golden State, Tuesday vs. Portland, Wednesday @ Oklahoma City.