Closing out victory in L.A. was group effort for Nuggets

Denver gets big plays across board to beat Lakers
by Aaron Lopez

In a tight game with less than 2 minutes left in Los Angeles, the Denver Nuggets turned to their go-to guy.

And their other go-to guy.

And their other go-to guy.

“We’re not going to have a go-to-guy as much as we’re going to have a go-to-team,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “Every guy on the court I think can make a shot.”

Over the past two seasons, Karl repeatedly has shared his philosophy that defensive stops, responsible rebounding and unselfish play are as important to closing games as an ice-veined shot maker.

The Nuggets gave their coach some supporting evidence in their 112-105 road victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

Defense: With Denver leading by four points in the final minutes, JaVale McGee stole a pass in the backcourt and then set a screen that led to an elbow jumper by Andre Miller with 1:43 to go.

Rebounding/unselfish play: Miller then grabbed a weakside rebound and made a quick outlet to Ty Lawson, who streaked past Steve Nash for a layup with 1:18 remaining.

A little good fortune doesn’t hurt. After Dwight Howard blocked a floater by Miller, the ball went directly to Danilo Gallinari, who drained a 3-pointer in front of the Lakers bench to push the lead back to 6 points with 13.8 seconds left.

The Nuggets finished with 33 assists and only 10 turnovers. They also made four consecutive free throws in the final 9 seconds to improve to a season-best four games above .500 (20-16).

“It’s good for our confidence,” Lawson said. “We just want to keep it rolling. We’ve been winning one game then losing one game. We’re trying to build some momentum for the next couple of weeks.”

The Nuggets certainly have an opportunity to string some wins together. They open a four-game homestand Wednesday against the Orlando Magic, and 12 of their next 14 games are at Pepsi Center.

“Right now, we’re playing pretty good basketball,” Karl said. “(Beating the Lakers on the road is) a sign that we’re getting better and we’re staying focused. We’re through the tough part of our schedule and we got to be hungry for the rest of the season.”