Padgett’s Hot Hand Lifts Nets Past Nuggets
New Jersey 115, Denver 106 (OT)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Dec. 16 (Ticker) -- Mired in a miserable slide at home, the New Jersey Nets got an unlikely boost from Scott Padgett.
Padgett made all of his season-high five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime and Jason Kidd buried a big shot from behind the arc to force the extra session in the Nets' 115-106 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
The losing streak at Continental Airlines Arena included four by double digits and an embarrassing setback against the Bobcats on Wednesday.
"We've lost a lot of games by 10 points or more so that's saying we're not in games, we're really not in games," Nets forward Richard Jefferson said. "Tonight, when things weren't going well, we kept fighting and gave ourselves a chance."
Facing a shorthanded Nuggets squad that had leading scorer Carmelo Anthony struggling from the floor, the Nets still needed a 4-of-4 effort from downtown in the fourth quarter by the little-used Padgett to stay close.
"Scott was huge, he was tremendous," New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said. "He was in great rhythm. Guys found him and he knocked down shots and gave us a high level of effort on the defensive end as well."
Denver, which was without leading rebounder and second-leading scorer Marcus Camby and reserve sparkplug Earl Boykins, held a 92-87 lead before Padgett made his fourth 3-pointer with 53 seconds left in regulation.
Jefferson split a pair of free throws to pull New Jersey within 92-91 before Andre Miller made two for the Nuggets with 20 seconds to go. On the next possession, Padgett found Kidd alone on the wing for a game-tying 3-pointer with 11 seconds to go.
"When Vince (Carter) threw it to me, I wasn't behind the 3-point line," Padgett said. "The defense sucked into me but I saw Jason out of the corner of my eye and he got the wide-open look."
Eduardo Najera's dunk came after the buzzer, and the Nets never trailed in overtime, making 8-of-9 shots.
"Maybe we got tired, fatigue set in," Anthony said. "We had a big game, put a lot of energy into it. When we got into overtime, we got tired and fatigue set in."
New Jersey took control when Padgett, who scored 15 points, buried his final shot from long range to make it 100-96 with 3:59 to play. Jefferson and Kidd each scored five points in OT and finished with 21 and 15, respectively.
"The overtime three that I hit was a heat check," Padgett said. "It felt good. Tonight, everything felt good when it left my hand and I'm glad I got to do it in a win."
Anthony missed all nine of his shots in the first half and was 2-of-17 until he made four straight shots and scored 11 consecutive points that left Denver with its 92-87 advantage.
"Collectively, our guys did a very good job defending Carmelo Anthony," Frank said.
Anthony finished 6-of-23 from the floor and scored 20 points before fouling out in the final minute of OT.
Miller, who found Najera in the lane on the Nuggets' last chance in regulation, had 22 points and 13 assists. Earl Watson and DerMarr Johnson combined for 34 points off the bench, but had just three between them after the third quarter.
Starting guard Greg Buckner was unable to play after an undisclosed injury suffered in the second quarter, making things more difficult for Denver.
"We could have easily ran out of gas," said Nuggets coach George Karl, who was using a seven-man rotation after halftime. "We worked hard."
Carter's second straight 3-pointer gave New Jersey an early 22-4 lead. Denver was within 10 points after one quarter and took a 34-33 edge on a three-point play by Johnson early in the second.
Through three quarters, Padgett had taken and missed just one shot in four minutes and the Nets were trailing, 71-68. His back-to-back 3-pointers gave New Jersey a 77-76 lead with 8:24 left in regulation.