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Chandler steps in for Gallinari as Nuggets race past Lakers

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Feb. 26 2013 00:32

In lieu of a jump ball, a starter’s gun would have been appropriate when the Denver Nuggets took the court Monday night.

Shortly after the opening tip, they were off to the races.

Taking advantage of age, altitude and a deep roster, the Nuggets matched their season-high with 33 fast-break points and ran past the Los Angeles Lakers 119-108 in front of a sellout crowd at Pepsi Center.

“They try to play fast, but they can’t play as fast as us. They can’t run with us,” Denver forward Corey Brewer said. “We just tried to the push the pace and make them run. They try to run, but that’s our game.”

Brewer scored 16 points off the bench as part of a balanced attack that featured five players in double figures and another four with at least six points.

Wilson Chandler, filling in for injured starter Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points in 25 minutes, while Ty Lawson scored 22 points to extend his streak of 20-plus games to seven.

Andre Iguodala (14 points, 12 assists) and Kenneth Faried (12 points, 10 rebounds) added double-doubles to help Denver extend its home winning streak to a season-best nine games and improve to 24-3 at Pepsi Center.

“There were a lot of highlights tonight,” Faried said with smile. “We were having fun out there. We battled and battled all night. When we’re having fun and clicking like that as a team, it’s pretty hard to stop us.”

Active defensively, the Nuggets scored 22 points off 15 Los Angeles turnovers and finished with 30 assists, including 11 that led directly to fast-break dunks or layups. The high-speed production prompted Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to refer to Denver as a “track team.”

“Their speed was something that was tough for us to adjust to,” Bryant said. “They just continually pushed the ball. Their shots go up and guys are already leaking out to go along with the speed, so they got a lot of easy buckets.”

In addition to their speed, the Nuggets (36-22) displayed their depth.

Gallinari, slowed by a left thigh bruise, was a late scratch, allowing Chandler to get his second start of the season. He promptly scored seven of Denver’s first 10 points and finished 10 of 18 from the field.

In his past three games, Chandler is averaging 18.7 points on 22-of-42 shooting.

“Ill Will’s been playing great, knocking down big shots,” Brewer said. “He’s spreading the floor for us and driving. It’s hard for bigs to guard him, so he’s getting a lot of things done.”

The Nuggets also got a nice contribution from center JaVale McGee, who had seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots in 23 minutes. One of the blocks came against Lakers All-Star center Dwight Howard as Los Angeles was trying to make a push in the fourth quarter.

“A lot of shots I just altered,” McGee said. “Definitely trying to be a presence down there.”

The Nuggets made their presence felt inside throughout the night, matching their NBA season-high with 78 points in the paint.

Their final field goal, appropriately, came on an alley oop with 1:13 remaining. Iguodala lobbed a pass to Faried, who caught it on the rise and dunked over a flat-footed Howard.

“Dwight was looking right at me,” Iguodala said. “I figured he didn’t think I would throw it. I threw it and caught him off guard. By the time he reacted, Kenneth’s up there putting it in the hole.”

It was the perfect exclamation point to cap a night at the races.

STAR OF THE GAME

Wilson Chandler

Points 10-18 FG
Rebounds 4, 2 OFF 2 DEF
Assists 1
Steals 1
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Kobe Bryant 29
Rebounds Dwight Howard 14
Assists Andre Iguodala 12
Steals Kenneth Faried, Metta World Peace 3
Blocks JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard 4
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on Denver finishing with a 33-3 advantage in fast-break points

"The fast-break points were a killer. They converted 78 points in the paint; that team is like a track team."

KEY MOMENT

Iguodala hits tough baseline jumper to keep Lakers at bay

The Lakers trailed by as many as 18 in the second half but trimmed the deficit to seven with 5:16 left in the game. Andre Iguodala responded with a tough baseline jumper and Andre Miller scored inside to push the lead back to 11.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On the game:
“I wish we could have defended a little better. But our commitment to play and beat a desperate team, I thought we played as hard as they did, if not a little bit harder. Wilson [Chandler] was fantastic and our bigs used their fouls in a very intelligent way and we got the bad free throw in the game, which we kind of talked about. Kobe [Bryant] was good but I don’t think he was great.”

On Wilson Chandler:
“Wilson is a very good player. As he gradually gets better confidence and better conditioning and a better place; he makes us very versatile, both offensively and defensively. Our running game was sensational and I think we put enough defense in the game that he gives us another individual defender that can cover ones, twos, threes, and fours pretty well and we can switch him. Andre Iguodala was good and his defense and passing was first class. Our decisions were a big part of why we had so many paint points; we made good decisions, we didn’t force too many jump shots. Ty [Lawson] shot the ball poorly from the three-point line but I thought most of his shots were pretty good choices.”

On Nuggets’ success on fast-break:
“I think anytime we play the Lakers, it’s going to be a speed versus size game, even without [Pau] Gasol, it’s still speed versus quickness. They were trying to play fast but I don’t think they play as fast as we want to play. I thought the guys had that extra engine to play as many minutes of the 48 that you could play fast. We might have run out of gas a little in the second half; we only scored 52 points. There were so many whistles and so many slow-downs that I still think the pace was pretty good for us.”

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried

On his alley-oop dunk over Dwight Howard:
“Andre Miller passed it to Andre Iguodala and then said ‘now you throw it, but if I’m not open don’t do it.’ Andre [Iguodala] had belief in me and he was like ‘I’m just gonna do it anyway.’ When he threw it, Dwight did get a hand on it. I was nervous but I was able to secure it with two hands and finish it.”

On if his alley-oop being one of the best in his career:
“Yeah I think it is because as I told all of you last time when we were home that I was going to dunk on him [Howard.] That’s why he fouled me so hard. This time I was able to (dunk on him) and he wasn’t able to foul me as hard or do anything about it.”

On favorite play in the game besides his:
“JaVale’s [McGee] put-back. When it came off, I don’t know if Dwight had him boxed out or anything, but it came off and JaVale just had that put-back dunk. It was something fierce.”

On a total team effort:
“It was. We all came out ready to play. We battled, and battled, and kept battling. We were at home just battling everything that was thrown at us. They [the Lakers] were fighting and coming back, but we were able to come out with the win.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On the big victory tonight:
“It was huge. We have a tough home game stand coming up with a lot of playoff teams coming in, so to beat the Lakers is a step in the right direction.”

On his hot shooting towards the end of the game:
“The first half I was trying to facilitate more. Corey [Brewer] and Wilson [Chandler] had it going, and I wanted to get them the ball. In the second half, things just fell into my hands and I was able to get to the basket and score.”

On JaVale McGee’s individual plays tonight:
“It’s just crazy watching how much talent he really has. He does it effortlessly. He blocks shots, he rebounds; I mean he controls the paint when he really wants to. He definitely did a great job tonight.”

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni

On the loss:
“Different phases of the game, we didn’t come out with our legs. We didn’t get back. They are very good at being athletic and they got their hands on a lot of our passes because we tried to force the ball inside. That was the start of the game and then in the second half we got it under control and we were shooting at a very high percentage and limited their fast-break points. We missed 17 free throws though; you can’t go 14 of 31 on the road against a good team.”

On facing Denver:
“They are good and they spread you out. Wilson Chandler had a good game so you have to give him credit. Firstly, we didn’t come out well. We came out and were down so from then, everything had to go right. We had two subs and then missed two free throws so the lead goes to nine then again two free throws, lead goes to eleven. We can’t do that on the road.”

On playing Denver at home:
“They have only lost three games at home so again, you have to give them credit because they are a good team. They played with a lot of energy but we can’t lose sight of what we’ve done and what we have to do. This is just a bump in the road and we will pick it up this Thursday.”

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

On the loss:
“They [Nuggets] didn’t shoot too well from the free throw line either. The fast-break points were a killer. They converted 78 points in the paint; that team is like a track team.”

On stopping Denver’s fast-breaks:
“You have to almost over-exaggerate getting back on defense. Literally, nobody can go get offensive boards.”

On the first quarter:
“I think it was their speed. It was something that was tough for us to adjust to. They just continually pushed the ball. Their shots go up and guys are already leaking out to go along with the speed so they got a lot of easy buckets.”

On moving forward:
“I don’t think it [the loss] is a step backwards. We played a good team that plays extremely well at home. Obviously they had some advantages in terms of their athleticism and they took advantage of it tonight. I’m not too concerned about it; we’ll bounce back next week. We have to just focus on taking care of business.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Andre Iguodala scored 14 points and dished out 12 assists tonight, recording his second-straight point-assist double-double. It is the fourth time in his career that he has posted back-to-back point-assist double-double’s, and first time since 3/4/11 thru 3/8/11 (three-game streak). Iguodala’s teams have gone 21-2 in his last 23 double-doubles.

• Ty Lawson scored 22 points in tonight’s victory, marking his seventh-straight game that he has scored 20+ points. It is the longest streak in Lawson’s career of scoring 20-or-more. In the last seven games Lawson is averaging 25.6 points and 8.3 assists. Additionally, Lawson has reached the 20-point mark in 14 of the last 20 games.

• Kenneth Faried registered 12 points and 10 rebounds en route to his 24th double-double of the season. The Nuggets improve to 22-1 at the Pepsi Center when Faried records a double-double in his career.

• Corey Brewer led the Denver bench with 16 points, the 24th time that he has led or tied the bench in points. He has now scored in double-digits in five-straight games. This marks the third time this season that Brewer has reached double figures in at least five consecutive games.

• Wilson Chandler scored 23 points in his second start of the season, registering his second 20+ point effort in the last three games (fourth of the season). Chandler is averaging 18.3 points in his last three games.

• JaVale McGee blocked four shots in tonight’s contest, marking the 49th time in his career he has blocked four-or-more shots in a game (eighth this season). In the last 12 games, McGee is averaging 2.33 blocks per game.

• Kobe Bryant scored 29 points in tonight’s loss, marking the 450th game in Bryant’s career that he has scored 29-or-more points.

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat the Lakers 119-108 and are now 24-3 at home and have won nine straight at Pepsi Center (longest streak since winning 10 straight from 2/10/11 thru 3/30/11). Denver has now won 10 of their last 14 home games over the Lakers.

• Denver shot .557 (49-88 FG) from the field, a Laker opponent season-high. The Nuggets are now 9-0 at home when shooting above 50% from the field.

• The Nuggets recorded 30 assists tonight, their second straight game with 30. Denver is now 8-0 on the year and has won each of their last 37 games when handing out 30+ assists. It’s their first time posting 30 helpers in two straight games since 4/9/11 through 4/11/11.

• Both Andre Iguodala (14 points, 12 assists) and Kenneth Faried (12 points, 10 rebounds) registered double-doubles tonight. Denver is now 10-2 when this happens.

• Chandler (23) and Lawson (22) both had 20+ points and Denver is now 14-6 when two-or-more players have 20+ (have won each of the last 11 when doing so).

• Denver scored an NBA season-high tying 78 points in the paint tonight, matching the 78 the Nuggets recorded on 12/22 vs. CHA. Denver has now scored 70+ points in the paint four times this season, the top four paint performances in the NBA this year.

• The Nuggets outrebounded the Lakers 44 to 36 tonight, improving to 18-1 when outrebounding their opponent at home.

• Denver registered 22 points off turnovers compared to the Lakers’ 16 and are now 24-5 when outscoring their opponent in points off turnovers.

• The Nuggets committed 10 turnovers in the win tonight. Denver is now 11-2 when committing 10-or-fewer turnovers.

• Denver recorded 14 steals, moving to 19-6 when they have 10-or-more steals.

• The Nuggets scored a season-high tying 33 fast break points, their fifth game with 30+ (4-1 in those games). The Lakers’ three fast break points is a new season-low.