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Brewer, Miller lead comeback as Nuggets rally past Mavs

By The Associated Press

Posted April 4 2013 22:52

DENVER (AP) -- Thanks to Corey Brewer, the Denver Nuggets' long home winning streak is intact. Their dreams of a deep playoff run, however, took a hit when Danilo Gallinari blew out his left knee.

''There's a sadness to the win,'' Denver coach George Karl said after the Nuggets beat the Dallas Mavericks 95-94 on Thursday night.

Their 19th straight win at home was a bittersweet one amid fears that Gallinari tore his ACL. Brewer replaced Gallinari in the lineup late in the first half and scored a game-high 23 points.

He added three big plays in the final 19 seconds that helped Denver improve to 34-3 at home.

First, Brewer stole the ball from Dirk Nowitzki with Denver trailing 94-93. Then, he grabbed the offensive rebound when Kenneth Faried missed his second straight free throw with 9 seconds left.

After Andre Iguodala sliced to the basket for a nifty left-handed layup with 2.8 seconds on the clock to put Denver ahead in a game that Dallas dominated, Brewer deflected Anthony Morrow's potential game-winner at the buzzer.

''Whatever it takes to win,'' Brewer said. ''Make a play, get a steal or get a rebound.''

Gallinari is scheduled for an MRI on Friday, but if his screams of pain, anguished face and the blank looks of his teammates after he went down with 4:27 left in the first half are any indication, the Nuggets will head into the playoffs without him.

''You never want to see anybody go down but especially a guy like Gallo that's so important to us,'' Brewer said. ''So, it's tough. But we have to fight through it. It's going to be tough on us, but we've got to just keep playing hard.''

Gallinari, who had nine points before getting hurt, is the Nuggets' second-leading scorer at 16.3 points per game. Their top scorer, Ty Lawson (16.7) is out indefinitely with a tear in his bruised right heel.

Gallinari's left knee buckled inward as he drove past Dirk Nowitzki and Darren Collison to the basket for a layup. He gave up the ball, grabbed his knee and hopped out of bounds, where he sat down, screaming in pain as Collison scored at the other end for Dallas.

Gallinari was helped off the court by reserves Timofey Mozgov and Quincy Miller. After a few halting steps, he was seated in a wheelchair and whisked away.

That the Nuggets were able to pull off the win without their two best players was testament to their depth and versatility. They hadn't won a game while shooting this poorly - 39 percent - since 2008.

''Winning (while) playing poorly against a good team is usually a good sign,'' Karl said. ''So, it's a win. It doesn't feel as exuberant as if Gallo wouldn't have gotten hurt, but I'm proud of the guys staying with it. We've just go to figure things out and don't feel sorry for ourselves, just hang in there and continue to figure out how our team fits.

''We're versatile, we're deep. And I told all the guys at the end of the bench that you never know when the opportunity's going to come and I think now there will probably be some opportunities for some guys at the end of the bench.''

The Nuggets, who haven't lost at home since Jan. 18 against Washington, entered the game third in the Western Conference in their quest for homecourt advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs, a task that will be a whole lot harder without Gallinari.

The Mavericks are in a tight race with the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot, and they nearly came away with a signature win at the Pepsi Center.

''We gave it away,'' Shawn Marion lamented. ''We had our chances to win this game and close it out.''

Dallas was without big man Elton Brand because of a sore right calf that's been bothering him for a week. Coach Rick Carlisle said Brand's injury flared up in the team's loss to Indiana on March 28 and affected his play in subsequent games against the Bulls and Lakers, ''so we're going to sit him and try to get him right.''

The 13th-year pro is averaging 7.4 points and 6.1 rebounds, and his presence in the paint might have made a difference for Dallas on this night.

The game was tied at 47 at halftime, but the Nuggets clearly had Gallinari on their minds after the break, falling behind 77-70 heading into the fourth quarter before they began chipping away.

Eventually, Iguodala's 3-pointer tied it at 86, but Andre Miller, who scored a season-high 22 points, botched an alley-oop pass to Iguodala for the go-ahead bucket and Chris Kaman scored at the other end for Dallas, which was led by Brandan Wright's 16 points.

Denver wouldn't take the lead until Iguodala drove the paint from the right side and scored a left-handed layup with 2.8 seconds left following Brewer's big offensive board.

''We were right there, one rebound away,'' Carlisle said. ''When Faried missed the second free throw we needed to come up with that. It didn't happen for us. The rebounding again was a big factor. We've got to be able to come up with a rebound.''

Carlisle didn't want to talk about Gallinari but said, ''Brewer played great. He hit timely shots all night and he had a lot to do with getting (O.J.) Mayo out of the game (with 1:48 left) because he kept drawing fouls. He had a great game for them.''

After a timeout, Dallas had one more chance to pull this one out - and so did Brewer. Sure enough, he sideswiped Morrow's 23-footer, getting just enough of the ball for it to fall short of the rim.

''I just knew he was going hard right,'' Brewer said. ''I knew he had to shoot it. There was only 2.8 seconds left and I knew I could block it.''

These are the types of things the Nuggets will hang onto as they forge ahead without Gallinari.

''We've got some gutsy guys that have a competitive spirit that's pretty first-class,'' Karl said.

NOTES: Denver is one win shy of matching its franchise record 20-game home winning streak, set in 1984-85. ... This marked the Mavericks' only visit to Denver this season. The teams play again in Dallas next week.

STAR OF THE GAME

Corey Brewer

Points 23 7-17 FG, 7-8 FT
Rebounds 2, 1 OFF 1 DEF
Assists 1
Steals 2
Blocks 1
GAME LEADERS
Points Corey Brewer 23
Rebounds Kenneth Faried 19
Assists Andre Iguodala 8
Steals Three players with 2
Blocks Kenneth Faried 4
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets coach George Karl on bittersweet feeling of winning without injured forward Danilo Gallinari

"It’s a win, but it doesn’t feel as exuberant as it would if Gallo wouldn’t have gotten hurt. But I’m proud of the guys for staying with it."

KEY MOMENT

Corey Brewer grabs a big offensive rebound to give Denver life in final seconds

After teammate Kenneth Faried missed the second of two free throws, Brewer swooped in from the top of the key and grabbed the rebound to give Denver one final possession with less than 10 seconds left. The Nuggets capitalized when Andre Iguodala scored the go-ahead basket with 2.8 to play.
VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On the emotions of the game:
“I don’t think there is any question; I don’t know what the word is. There was a period of time after [Danilo Gallinari] went down that the team seemed to be without spirit. [The Dallas Mavericks] came out with a great third quarter. I was really proud how we fought; we were down nine then eight, we cut it back down, [Dallas] hit a three, we made a mistake. It’s what I say all the time, winning playing poorly against a good team is usually a good sign. It’s a win but it doesn’t feel as exuberant as it would if Gallo wouldn’t have gotten hurt, but I’m proud of the guys for staying with it. We just got to figure things out and not feel sorry for ourselves; just continue to hang in there and figure out how our team fits. We’re versatile, we’re deep and I’ve told all the guys at the end of the bench you never know when the opportunity is going to come. I think now there will probably be some opportunities for some guys at the end of the bench.”

On Danilo Gallinari’s injury:
“I’ve had some that look bad but turn out to be okay. Nene a couple of years ago went down and everyone thought it was an ACL but it was just a sprain. I can’t deny that it didn’t look good. Facially, I usually look at the players face and he was scared. He obviously felt he hurt something.

On Corey Brewer’s defensive play:
“Wilson Chandler did a great job to get the loose ball too. We win the game because of Wilson and Corey hustle plays. And the guts of Andre Miller, absolutely amazing.”

On Andre Iguodala taking the final shot in the absence of Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari:
“We were trying to get Andre Miller the ball, but when [Dallas] put [Shawn] Marion on him I whispered to [Andre Iguodala], I said hey, if they are disrupting Andre [Miller] you’ve got to go. I thought we spaced the court well, Andre got in the gap and finished the shot.”

Nuggets point guard Andre Miller

On Danilo Gallinari’s injury and effect on team:
“Not really. I think it was more Dallas playing good basketball, slowing us down a little bit. It is tough when you are down two of your main scorers in Ty [Lawson] and [Danilo Gallinari]. You are hoping nothing is torn. We found a way to pull that game out and that’s what you need at this point in the season.”

On rebounding late in the game:
“Yeah, definitely. We were able to force a turnover and [Kenneth] Faried misses those two free throws and we were able to get a rebound, if we didn’t, we would have had to have fouled them to finish the game off but it was definitely a rebound-game for us and a game where we had to push the issue on a lot of missed shots by us and clean them up and Faried did the job for us.”

On the team maturing:
“That’s a veteran team [Dallas] out there. We figured out how to close them out; we stayed attacking the basket even though we weren’t getting calls. You know when guys aren’t playing well, we just keep attacking the basket and will find out that our defense helped us down the stretch to win games; we held them to under 20 points [in the fourth quarter].”

Nuggets forward Corey Brewer

On huge individual plays:
“Whatever it takes to win. I love to win so make a play, get a steal, make a rebound, whatever it takes to get a win.”

On Andre Iguodala’s game winning play:
“It was a big play. Andre Miller said ‘we are running out of time, just take it.’ So he [Iguodala] took him and made a layup and that’s what we needed.”

On rebounding Kenneth Faried’s free-throw:
“I was anticipating it. Me and Andre [Miller], if you watch the play, Andre goes in and takes the whole right side out so that’s why I went right behind him and that ball came right to me. I was lucky. It worked out for us.”

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle

On losing such a close game:
“We were right there. We were a rebound away and when [Kenneth] Faried missed the second free throw, we needed to come up with that [the ball]; it just didn’t happen for us. The rebounding, again, was a big factor. We had some opportunities down the stretch and we didn’t execute well offensively so I will take responsibility for that. We have to be able to come up with the rebound.”

On how big a factor Corey Brewer was down the stretch:
“He played great. He had timely shots all night and he had a lot to do with getting [O.J.] Mayo out of the game because he kept drawing fouls on him so he played a great game tonight.”

On losing down the stretch as a recurring theme this season:
“We just have to keep going; we have to turn this around tomorrow night and that’s where it’s at. It is very disappointing; we fought hard. We did a lot of good things but when teams turn up the heat, we have to be able to get a big rebound in a crowd. We have to be able to execute and get a good shot and we didn’t do it in the last minute.”

On Dirk Nowitzki going scoreless in the fourth quarter in a close game:
“The times we went to him, they made him give it up. It is just one of these things; we tried going to him on the second to last play and they have guys flying at him, ripping at the ball, and the spacing wasn’t good on the play. That is on me. But it is a case of always wanting to get him the ball when we can and when we can’t, he affects the game in a way that helps other guys get shots. That’s when we need everybody to be able to step up.”

Mavericks center Chris Kaman

On the loss:
“This was better than we played the other night. I think we got hurt on the boards a little bit and that was probably the biggest part of the game that we took the hit on, the boards. They had 18 offensive rebounds and [Kenneth] Faried had eight of them. He is a beast in there and he is a tough matchup for anybody. We didn’t have the effort there and we got scored on in [the paint].”

On the offense in the fourth quarter:
“That’s a good question; I’m not really the guy to ask. I am just trying to be patient and take my opportunities. I thought we got a little flat at the end but we did a good job of getting the stops, we just didn’t seem like we could get the rebounds. That kind of hurt us there at the end. Coach expressed that in the meeting afterwards but it is tough to come play that well in Denver; they have been on a tear here and it is tough to play that well and go to Sacramento with a loss and then have another game tomorrow night so we have to go forward, quickly.”

On playing in Denver:
“They are tough in this building. I think they have won 18 in a row, now 19. I thought we did a good enough job to win that game but down the stretch, getting those rebounds. That’s part of basketball, there are ups and downs. We have had a little bit more downs than ups tonight. Tough loss for us, I think we played pretty well. We were ahead most of the game.”

Mavericks forward Shawn Marion

On the loss:
“Oh yeah, definitely, we gave this one away. We had a chance to win this game, and close out, but it didn’t happen.”

On what went wrong:
“I hope he’ll [Danilo Gallinari] be okay, but it isn’t about them; it’s about us. We’ve seen some [stuff], we need to make an extra pass, moving the ball a little more. That’s when we got the run and got the lead. We stopped doing that [stuff] and that’s when it went to [garbage]. It went from sugar to [garbage] that quick. When we share the ball, we are one of the best teams in the league. When we start forcing up shots and pounding the ball, we are going to take bad shots and all that other [garbage].”

On simple plays:
“That has been our Achilles heel all year; some days we can make them and some days we can’t. Rebounding too, [the Nuggets] got all of the offensive rebounds. It is hard to make up that difference. We still had our chances.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Andre Iguodala hit the game-winning basket with 2.8 seconds left, his first game-winning basket of the year.

• Iguodala finished the game with eight points, nine rebounds and eight assists, marking the 24th time in his career that he has reached these totals. It is just the second time he has accomplished this in a Nuggets uniform; previously done @GSW 11/10/12.

• With 12 points and 19 rebounds, Kenneth Faried notched his 42nd career double-double, and 27th at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets are now 26-1 all-time when Faried records a double-double at home.

• Additionally, Faried’s 19 rebounds are tied for the second most rebounds that he has grabbed in a single game; previously had 19 vs. ORL 1/9/13. It is the third time this year that he has registered at least 19 rebounds in a game, all three at home.

• Tonight’s game marked the fourth time that Faried recorded at least eight offensive rebounds in a game, with all four games taking place this year at home.

• With 12 points, 19 rebounds, four blocks and two steals, Faried is just the fourth Nugget to ever reach those numbers; last accomplished by Marcus Camby vs. SAC 4/12/04.

• Andre Miller finished the game with 22 points and seven assists, marking the 125th time of his career that he has reached these numbers in a game.

• Additionally, Miller’s 22 points are a season-high and the most points he has recorded in a game since he scored 28 points @PHI 1/18/12.

• With 23 points, Corey Brewer led the bench in scoring for the 30th time this season, and eight of the last 12 games. The Nuggets are now 21-9 when Brewer leads the bench in scoring.

• Brandan Wright registered 16 points and six rebounds off the bench, marking the third time of his career that he has reached these numbers and second time in his last three games.

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat the Mavericks 95-94, winning their 19th straight home game, tying their second longest NBA home-winning streak (also won 19 straight from 1/28/89 to 4/20/89). The longest home streak in Nuggets’ NBA franchise history was 20 straight wins from 1/9/85 to 3/30/85.

• Denver is now 34-3 at home this year (best home record in team history was 36-5 in 1976-77).

• The Nuggets are now 32-3 when allowing fewer than 100 points and are now 9-7 when scoring less than 100 points.

• The Mavericks led by eight points heading into the fourth, the third time this season Denver has rallied to win when trailing by eight after three (most recently on 3/15 vs. MEM).

• Denver shot just .393 (35-89 FG) tonight, their lowest field goal percentage in a win at home since 11/16/08 vs. MIN (.337).

• Corey Brewer scored 23 points off the bench, moving Denver to 15-2 when a reserve scores 20+ points.

• Additionally, both Brewer and Andre Miller (22 points) scored 20+ points and the Nuggets are now 19-6 when two-or-more players score 20+. They have now won 15 straight when accomplishing this.

• Denver outrebounded Dallas 50-41 tonight and are now 16-3 when grabbing 50-or-more rebounds.

• The Nuggets attempted 30 free throws tonight and are now 20-3 when getting to the line 30-or-more times.

• Denver committed just nine turnovers in the game, their 14th game with 10-or-fewer turnovers (12-2 in those games).

• The Nuggets are now 7-8 in the second games of back-to-back sets, and have won of each of the last four such games.

• Denver had just three players register 10+ points, just the sixth time this has happened this season (3-0 at home, 0-3 on the road in those games).