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Fourth-quarter defense fuels Nuggets to fifth straight win

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Jan. 13 2013 23:28

Kenneth Faried unleashed a primal scream following a Golden State turnover.

Corey Brewer walked with a strut and pumped his fist after another big defensive stop.

Danilo Gallinari danced after a dagger 3.

It took the Denver Nuggets three quarters to get going, but once they did, the Golden State Warriors were powerless to stop them.

Creating havoc at the defensive end, the Nuggets opened the fourth quarter on a 19-2 run, turning an eight-point deficit into a nine-point advantage, and cruised to a 116-105 win at Pepsi Center on Sunday night.

“We locked it up,” said Brewer, who scored six points during the decisive stretch. “We had a good fourth quarter. We gave up a lot of points in the first three quarters, but we knew if we kept pushing and kept playing defense, we could wear them down.”

Pressuring Golden State’s point guards, the Nuggets (23-16) forced seven turnovers and held the Warriors to 6-of-17 shooting in the fourth quarter. Denver outscored Golden State 37-18 over the final 12 minutes to win their fifth straight game.

“I didn’t think it was going to be like that,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “I thought it was going to be another last 5-minute game. We played to our strength in the fourth quarter and turned up the defense. I’d like to see our defense start a little bit earlier than that, but I’ll take the wins.”

With the victory, Denver won the season series against Golden State 3-1, which could be important as teams battle for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. The Warriors currently are fifth in the West, just a game-and-a-half ahead of the Nuggets.

“There’s no question that come April, there’s going to be a lot of one-game situations,” Karl said. “All the tiebreakers you can get in your pocket can be very positive.”

The Nuggets got more positive news with the return of forward Wilson Chandler. Playing his first game since Nov. 12, Chandler scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in 21 minutes. He missed 30 games while still recovering from hip surgery last spring.

“It felt good just to be out there having fun,” Chandler said. “Last year and this year, not being healthy, it’s frustrating but it’s part of the game. You play through it and try to work hard.”

The Nuggets played through an unbelievable shooting display by Golden State guard Stephen Curry and rookie forward Harrison Barnes. Curry made 7-of-9 3-pointers and finished with 29 points, while Barnes went 5-for-6 from behind the arc.

It still wasn’t enough to overcome 28 turnovers that led to 26 points for Denver.

“We were really feeling good (in the third quarter),” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We were taking care of the basketball, we were getting quality looks on the offensive end and things fell apart. We knew what we had to do going into the fourth; we gave them life and they capitalized on it”

Two steals by Chandler and one by Andre Miller sparked Denver’s comeback early in the fourth.

Ss the Nuggets were making their push, Karl and his coaching staff implored the players to keep their foot on the gas.

“They're the tired team,” assistant Melvin Hunt said during one timeout. “We're the team with energy!"

The Warriors were able to cut the deficit to six points twice in the final seven minutes, but never got any closer after Gallinari scored on a put-back dunk and an uncontested 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions.

“Things can happen so quick,” Gallinari said. “We knew that. The defense was our secret in the fourth quarter. When our defense is like that, it’s tough for other teams to figure out what to do on offense.”

Gallinari finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Ty Lawson added 20 points. Miller was effective and efficient, totaling 12 points, six rebounds, eight assists and two steals.

STAR OF THE GAME

Danilo Gallinari

Points 21, 7-12 FG, 4-6 FT
Rebounds 8, 3 OFF 5 DEF
Assists 6
Steals 0
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Stephen Curry 29
Rebounds David Lee 13
Assists Andre Miller 8
Steals Andre Iguodala 5
Blocks Carl Landry 2
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried on Denver's attacking style having an effect on the opposition

“This is altitude; that sixth man really kills them. They don’t really realize it until they wonder why we are still running so fast. They are just slowing down and we are slowly wearing them down."

KEY MOMENT

Nuggets turn up defense, open fourth quarter on 19-2 run

Trailing by eight points after three quarters, the Nuggets forced four turnovers and held Golden State to 1-for-7 shooting over the first 4:23 of the fourth to take a 98-89 lead.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On the fourth quarter:
“Urgency, desperation, professional pride. Tonight’s game I thought we played poorly. Golden State played well, got their three ball in the game. We covered them well but they still made their share of them. Andre [Iguodala] and Corey [Brewer] got to the ball. There was some fatigue and some wear and tear out there. We were consistently attacking the teeth of their defense. In the fourth quarter we got a lot of easy baskets. I would have to say that Iguodala’s defense on Jarrett [Jack] was pretty incredible; we got two or three turnovers in a row that lifted us from a four or five point game to a double digit game. Then we found the open man and made some threes down the stretch to make it an easy win. The stat sheet makes it look like it was an easy win, but they [Warriors] are a pretty quality basketball team playing at a high level, they have a lot of confidence. My feeling right now is that it is a really good win for us.”

On defending the Warriors guards:
“Well I think all their guards have been scorers for most of their careers. Trying to trap them and just be aggressive when you’re down and playing kind of sleepy. Andre [Iguodala] and Corey [Brewer] got us into that mode and everyone else just kind of followed in line. I don’t know what the video showed, but my feeling is that Iguodala got a couple of steals in the third quarter. Anytime we get aggressive and get some confidence in the way we play with our defense, we usually play at a high level.”

On Wilson Chandler’s first game back since November 12, 2012:
“I think it was a good matchup for him. Kenneth [Faried] on [David] Lee is not my favorite matchup, but I thought I’d get [Chandler] out there for four or five minutes. His shot selection we’re going to have to talk about. I like guys that have the ability to get 14 shots and never have a play run for them. We’ll just have to talk about that.”

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried

On a big win despite first half:
“Yeah of course. They shot the skin off of the ball in the first half. But we were able to buckle down in the second half and we got our defense into it and you can’t say enough about Andre [Miller], our vet leader at point guard. What he did to Jarrett Jack at center court with that steal, and was able to finish, that really stopped their momentum.”

On Nuggets point guards control of game:
“Yeah we did. Ty Lawson, he dominated tonight. Andre Miller dominated tonight. Respectfully, I have to say that Stephen Curry dominated for his team tonight. But we escaped with the win.”

On Nuggets defense clamping down in the second half:
“This is altitude; that sixth man really kills them. They don’t really realize it until they wonder why we are still running so fast. They are just slowing down and we are slowly wearing them down. The first quarter, you don’t really see it. Second quarter, not really. The third quarter, late third, early fourth, it’s over.”

Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari

On a huge win versus the Warriors:
“It was a very good win. That’s a team that’s playing well. They are ahead of us in the Western Conference. It was a very good win for us at home, especially with another very good fourth quarter for us.”

On defense improvement in the second half:
“That’s what they do; they shoot the ball very well. So in order to win the game, you must step up in the last quarter. I thought that Andre [Iguodala] and Corey [Brewer] did a good job stepping up the aggressiveness on defense. And everyone else just followed. They couldn’t find a solution for their offense. That was a very good fourth quarter but the secret of everything was our defense.”

On late third, start of fourth quarter run:
“We just have to keep playing our defense and keep the focus on defense. Keep locking up and keep pressuring the ball and we’ll be fine. That’s what we were saying at the time to each other.”

Warriors coach Mark Jackson

On losing control of the game:
“We didn’t take care of the basketball at the start of the fourth quarter. We gave them life by being careless with the basketball. This is a team that feeds off of that. They got it going in transition and hurt us. That’s not our brand of basketball, defensively or offensively in that fourth quarter.”

On Stephen Curry:
“We turned the basketball over and when you turn over the basketball, you don’t get good looks. That’s what it boils down to. He had a great game. Two of our backcourt guys had five turnovers, ten turnovers together. You’re not going to survive that on the road.”

On Jarrett Jack:
“He knows he has to be better with the basketball. Simple as that. You move on. [It was] out of character tonight.”

On building the ten-point in the third period:
“We were really feeling good at the time; we were taking care of the basketball, we were getting quality looks on the offensive end and things fell apart early on. We knew what we had to do going into the fourth; we gave them life and they capitalized on it.”

Warriors forward David Lee

On what they learned from the loss:
“Don’t turn the ball over on the road.”

On keeping up with rebounds:>
“We are one of the best rebounding teams in the league, we are top three or four in the league, best defensive rebounding team in the league. They play a lot more guys than we do. I think [Kenneth] Faried sat out about half of the third quarter and the first three or four minutes of the fourth. [JaVale] McGee’s length, they come at you in waves. And [Danilo] Gallinari and [Andre] Iguodala are also very good rebounders. This is a game we should have won; the turnovers are what really killed us.”

Warriors guard Stephen Curry

On Denver’s rebounding:
“They just did everything right. The first five minutes, we gave them 18 points. There is no way you are going to win.”

On if the Nuggets surprised them with the full-court press:
“No, we had a couple of inaccurate passes; you have to take care of the ball. It’s nothing we haven’t seen. Credit to them for pulling the trigger when they did. They made plays.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Danilo Gallinari scored 21 points, grabbed eight boards, and dished out six assists in tonight’s victory. It is only the second time in his career that he has recorded those numbers in the same game (previous – 4/2/10 @ GSW, 29 points, eight rebounds, eight assists). The Nuggets improve to 10-0 at the Pepsi Center when Gallinari scores 20+ points in his career.

• Ty Lawson scored 20 points while handing out five assists tonight, marking the 33rd time in his career he has reached those numbers and the 14th time he has done so at the Pepsi Center (Nuggets 11-3).

• Wilson Chandler returned to action tonight after missing the last 30 games (last game - 11/12/12 at PHO) and scored 14 points while grabbing six rebounds in 20:55 minutes of action. It is the most points he has scored since 4/13/11 @ UTA (27 points). Additionally, it is the most minutes he has played since 3/28/12 @ TOR (32:51).

• Danilo Gallinari (21 points) and Ty Lawson (20 points) both went over the 20-point mark for the Nuggets in tonight’s win. The Nuggets are now 7-4 on the year when two players register 20+ in the same game. Additionally, it has happened in three of the last four games, with the Nuggets winning all three games.

• Andre Miller scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds, and recorded eight assists in tonight’s win. It is the first time this season he has recorded those numbers in the same game (last time – 1/27/12 vs. TOR, 13 points, six rebounds, 12 assists).

• Andre Iguodala recorded five steals in the game, matching his season-high set on 12/14/12 vs. MEM. It is the 25th time in his career that he has had five-or-more steals in the same game.

• Stephen Curry scored 29 points tonight while shooting 7-of-9 from beyond the arc. It marks the fourth time in his career that he has made seven-or-more from distance in a game (last time – 12/21/12 vs. CHA, 8-of-13 3FGM). It is the highest percentage (.777) he has shot from behind the arc in his career (min. eight attempts).

• Harrison Barnes set a new career-high with five three pointers made in tonight’s game. His previous high was four, which he accomplished on 11/19/12 @ DAL. Tonight was Golden State’s first loss on the season when Barnes hits three-or-more three’s in a game (3-1).

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat the Warriors 116-105 tonight and have now won 16 of their last 18 home games over Golden State. Denver is now 13-2 at home and they have won five straight overall games, their longest win streak of the season.

• The Nuggets are now 7-1 when scoring 110+ points this season and have won 23 consecutive games when scoring 100+ points at home.

• The Warriors shot .518 (43-83 FG) from the field tonight, the first Nuggets’ opponent to shoot over 50% at home this year and the first opponent home or away since the L.A. Lakers on 11/30.

• The Nuggets outscored the Warriors 37-18 in the fourth quarter tonight (started quarter on 19-2 run). Over their last five games, Denver is outscoring their opponents by an average of 9.8 points in the fourth. • Additionally, in their last four home games they are outscoring their opponents by 12.0 in the fourth and three of the last four homes games their opponent has scored under 20 points.

• The Nuggets overcame a 10-point deficit tonight, and have now won after trailing by double-digits in each of their last three games. It was their seventh such comeback of the year.

• The Nuggets committed a season-low tying eight turnovers tonight and are now 5-2 when committing 10-or-fewer turnovers.

• The Nuggets connected on nine threes tonight and are now 7-1 when hitting nine-or-more from deep (have done in three of last four games).