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Gallinari, Lawson shine as Nuggets hold off Celtics

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Feb. 20 2013 00:06

The legs were a little heavy, the breathing a bit labored.

Nearly two weeks away from the mile-high altitude still didn’t stop the Denver Nuggets from continuing their dominance at Pepsi Center.

Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson scored 26 points apiece as the Nuggets extended their home winning streak to eight games with a 97-90 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.

“Having four or five days off, you think it’s easy to turn the switch back on but it isn’t,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “There was a lot of huffing and puffing going on out there. The Celtics played hard and fast, and we played hard and fast. I think it was a gutty win.”

Denver (34-21) ended a three-game losing streak and gave Karl his 400th victory since joining the Nuggets on Jan. 27. 2005. Only Doug Moe has more wins (432) than Karl in franchise history.

Like Moe in the 1980s, Karl has emphasized taking advantage of the altitude by running at every opportunity. The Nuggets, now 23-3 at home, finished with only 11 fast-break points against Boston but pushed the pace enough to inflict a toll on the Celtics.

Nine Denver players logged more than 17 minutes, compared to seven for Boston.

“People thought they forced their tempo on us, but honestly, they didn’t,” Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried said. “You could tell they were starting to get tired, worn out. Their legs started to go and they weren’t hitting big shots. We got focused and locked in and guys played great (defense) at the end.”

The Celtics outlasted the Nuggets in triple-overtime in Boston on Feb. 10, snapping Denver’s nine-game winning streak. The disheartening loss was still fresh in the minds of Faried and his teammates.

“It was important because they started our losing streak,” Faried said. “We wanted to come out and show that we had improved and gotten better and took it to heart.”

Faried grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds and came up with a big defensive play as Boston tried to rally in the game’s final minutes. With the Celtics trailing by four points, Boston center Kevin Garnett worked his way into the paint but missed badly when Faried challenged his shot.

Lawson followed with two free throws with 20.7 seconds left and the Celtics didn’t score again. They managed 40 points on .361 shooting after halftime.

“I thought we won it with our defense in the second half,” Karl said. “I hope (my players) are listening because the key for us making the next step is not worrying as much about the offense. Do what we do well offensively and just try to get better defensively.”

Led by Garnett, Boston boasts one of the league’s best half-court defenses, and it showed Tuesday as the Nuggets shot .429 from the field. Denver offset its poor shooting with a season-low seven turnovers.

Lawson didn’t commit a turnover as he picked up where he left off before the All-Star break. He has scored at least 26 points in four straight games and is shooting .621 from the field, including .579 from 3-point range.

“Ty is playing as good as he has played all year,” Karl said before the game, “and maybe as good as he has played in his career.”

Gallinari isn’t far behind, scoring in double figures in each of his past 20 games. He hit four 3-pointers against Boston after missing the final two games before the All-Star break with a sinus infection.

“Ty and Gallo now are playing great,” Karl said. “I think it just makes the foundation of your team when you’ve got two guys taking a lot of responsibility every night; it makes it easier for everyone else.”

The Nuggets now get two days of practice before heading on the road again for back-to-back games Friday at Washington and Saturday at Charlotte.

STAR OF THE GAME

Ty Lawson

Points 26, 8-13 FG, 8-10 FT
Rebounds 6, 1 OFF 5 DEF
Assists 6
Steals 1
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson 26
Rebounds Kenneth Faried 16
Assists Andre Iguodala 7
Steals Four with 2
Blocks Jeff Green 2
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried on his 16-rebound performance and late-game defense against Celtics center Kevin Garnett

“I've said before, I wasn't scared of KG. I wasn't going to back down from him even though he's a great player. He was a role model for me growing up, but when we get on that court, we're all enemies.”

KEY MOMENT

Lawson sneaks in for offensive rebound and putback during decisive run

After the Celtics rallied from an eight-point deficit to tie the game, Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson grabbed an offensive rebound near the left block and converted the point-blank putback. The shot was part of a 10-2 run that put Denver ahead 94-86. Boston never got closer than four the rest of the way.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On if the altitude affected the outcome of the game:
“I don’t know, I think both teams were kind of tired in the fourth quarter. We got some great looks and missed a lot of free throws. There was a lot of ‘huffin and puffin’ going on out there. There was a lot of energy out on the court. The Celtics played hard and fast, and we played hard and fast. I think it was a gutty win. I thought we won it with our defense in the second half. I hope they [Nuggets players] are listening because that’s the key for us making the next step is not worrying much about the offense; do what we do well offensively and just try to get better defensively.”

On Danilo Gallinari:
“Early in the season between Gallo, Ty [Lawson] and AI [Iguodala] we were having trouble getting two of them playing well; Ty and Gallo now are playing great. I think it just makes the foundation of your team when you’ve got two guys taking a lot of responsibility every night; it makes it easier for everyone else. I hope Kenneth [Faried] and Iguodala and our bench understands that they need to throw in some good games too and get more confident, hopefully more together as the season goes on. We didn’t get a lot of great performances in the role players but I thought defensively Iguodala made some big plays in the fourth quarter. He and Wilson [Chandler] couldn’t make shots; Kenneth didn’t have a great offensive night but he rebounded the hell out of it. We pieced together the game together really well.”

On Andre Iguodala’s defensive play despite the trouble in shooting:
“I’m sure it’s hard for him psychologically not finding an offensive rhythm. For me, I think he should just relax. I think he should just chill and continue to lead us defensively. The offense will get better and don’t try to take tough shots; just try to find easy shots, that would be my recommendation. Maybe go to the offensive glass, run out hard and try to get ahead of the pack a little bit, and when you run into an open one, knock it down.”

On if he saw the edge he was hoping for:
“I thought it was a pretty energized [I don’t know if it was playoff intensity] game. I thought it was a good win to come back [from all-star break.] Having four or five days off, you think it’s easy to turn the switch back on but it isn’t. They [the Celtics] are more of a veteran team, they probably have more guys that know how to handle all-star break. We had to fight to find our direction a lot in the game. In the third quarter I thought Gallo got going and we got some confidence in our defense. I think right now defensively Boston plays as good of defense as anyone we play. Their guards get after you. You’ve got [Kevin] Garnett in the middle court, in the middle lane all the time. Conceptually their first class, and the Jeff Green is coming into his own; he’s just really turning a corner in his rehab. The last 10 games this kids been really good.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On Boston trying to frustrate him:
“Probably just putting two guys on me. As a team they helped so much that when we would drive, we would really have to look for that second penetration and we got that in the second half.” On playing defense and getting big plays on offense tonight:
“We are an aggressive team. We just wanted to bounce back from earlier games this season and everyone would probably be pumped. This year everyone has stood back and we go to the players and everyone would just play hard.”

On Danilo Gallinari being healthy:
“It was a sinus infection but he came back strong. He hit big shots. He was scoring well and he was just playing well for us.”

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried

On the importance of getting first win after All-Star break:
“It was important because they started our losing streak. They came out and beat us in triple overtime which was a heartbreaker at their place. They snapped our nine game winning streak. We wanted to come out and show that we had improved and gotten better and took it to heart.” On winning at any tempo:
“People thought they forced their tempo on us, but honestly, they didn’t. You could tell they were starting to get tired, worn out. Their legs started to go and they weren’t hitting big shots like they were in Boston. Then we just got the crowd behind us which is always good for us when we are playing at home. We got focused and locked in and guys played great [defense] at the end.”

On the Celtics getting tired at the end:
“It was noticeable. It was also because of the up-and-down pace we play so they kept trying to hit me and grab me because I was running too fast. They started fouling me doing sneaky stuff to me and Ty [Lawson] but we just kept fighting.”

Celtics coach Doc Rivers

On the lessons learned tonight:
“I think we just didn’t close out any quarter very well. The first and the end of the third [quarter] killed us. They went on a run to end the game. I thought a couple of things didn’t go our way. [Kenneth] Faried stepped out of bounds clear as day and there was no call so that hurt; that was a big play. At the end of the day, I thought we didn’t trust each other tonight offensively and that happens. We haven’t done that lately. But I thought in the beginning of the third, I thought every single was just trying to make plays and that’s because they wanted to win. I didn’t think we trusted each other at all. I thought we did a poor job establishing Kevin [Garnett] and that was one of our focal points going into the game and we just didn’t do a very good job of it.”

On the trust issue and correcting it:
“Yeah we trust each other; we’ve been great. We just didn’t do it tonight. We were doing in the first half but we just got away from it. Really it is on me, I have to try to get them back into it and I never could. I called a couple of time outs to try to remind us that we have five guys and just play with five. I thought everybody really came to this game wanting to win it and that may have gotten in our way quite honestly. I thought each guy wanted to win it instead of trusting the team.”

On surprise that Nuggets can match Celtics physicality:
“No we were small most of the game. Honestly coming into the game, we are more concerned with matching theirs and in a lot of ways [Kenneth] Faried is a beast. He is one of my favorite players to watch; I don’t like playing against him. He got a really fortunate call down the stretch on that rebound but that happens probably because you play hard. And you play so hard sometimes that breaks go your way. You can’t fault anybody for that.”

Celtics forward Paul Pierce

On the loss:
“I thought we did get stagnant with the ball movement. We just didn’t make the adjustment in that aspect. We had a little bit too much going on one-on-one. We were taking tough shots and at the end, we didn’t get key stops. We fouled a little bit too much; we tied the game but then every crucial, crucial possession we needed to stop, we didn’t stop.”

On coming back after the All-Star break:
“We will get it back. We understand how we have to play to win. We will find it on this road trip, hopefully tomorrow, we have to get back at it. Tonight wasn’t exactly what we wanted but we will learn from the loss and we will get back to what we were doing that made us successful.”

On his teammate’s success during his struggle:
“They have to continue to play well for us. It has to be a team effort from all of us. We need to have about five, six, seven guys in double figures. Each and every night, we have to rebound as a group. Every night it is going to be somebody different and we have to have that consistency if we are going to be successful on this road trip.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Ty Lawson finished the game with 26 points, six rebounds and six assists, marking the fifth time in his career he has had at least 25-5-5 in the same game.

• Lawson has scored at least 26 points in each of his last four games and is averaging 27.5 ppg, 8.3 apg and 1.75 spg while shooting .621 (41-66 FG) from the field and .579 (11-19 3FG) from three during this stretch. Lawson has scored at least 20 points in 11 of his last 17 games.

• Danilo Gallinari scored 26 points while pulling down five rebounds and dishing out five assists, marking just the second time he has reached those numbers in his career (first as a Nugget). The Nuggets are now 15-0 when Gallinari scores at least 20 points at the Pepsi Center.

• Additionally, Gallinari went to the line 11 times, marking just the fourth time this year and 21st of his career that he has reached this number. Gallinari also made four three-pointers in the game for the fifth time this season, and seventh time in a Nuggets uniform.

• Kenneth Faried pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds, marking just the ninth time in his career and seventh time this season he has grabbed at least 15 rebounds in a game. The Nuggets are now 8-1 when Faried accomplishes this feat.

• Additionally, Faried had five offensive rebounds, the 25th time he has had at least five in a game.

• Jeff Green paced the Celtics with 20 points off the bench, marking the first time this season he has reached 20 points, and third time ever in a Celtics uniform. The last time Jeff Green scored at least 20 points in a game was on 4/11/11 vs. WAS.

• Additionally, this is only the second time that Green has scored at least 20 points in a game when coming off of the bench.

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat the Celtics 97-90 and are now 23-3 and have won eight straight at Pepsi Center. Denver has now won four straight and eight of their last nine at home over Boston.

• Denver held the Celtics to 90 points in the win tonight. They are now 21-3 when allowing fewer than 100 points this year.

• The Nuggets outrebounded the Celtics 45 to 39 tonight, improving to 17-1 when outrebounding their opponent at home.

• Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson are the first Nuggets’ teammates to post 25+ points, 5+ rebounds and 5+ assists in the same game since Carmelo Anthony (28 pts, 15 reb, 6 ast) and Allen Iverson (25 pts, 6 reb, 8 ast) on 2/4/08 at POR.

• Gallinari (26) and Lawson (26) both had 20 + points and Denver is now 13-4 when two-or-more players have 20+ (have won each of the last 10 when doing so).

• Denver registered 14 points off turnovers compared to the Celtics’ six and are now 22-4 when outscoring their opponent in points off turnovers.

• The Nuggets committed a season-low seven turnovers tonight (previous was eight on five occasions). Denver is now 10-2 when committing 10-or-fewer turnovers.