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Gallinari, Chandler help Nuggets spoil Anthony's return to Denver

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted March 13 2013 00:45

The Denver Nuggets officially have closure.

More than two years after consummating the biggest trade in franchise history, the Nuggets made a statement Wednesday night against Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.

The state of NBA hoops is alive-and-well in the Mile High City.

Facing Anthony in Denver for the first time since sending him to New York on Feb. 22, 2011, the Nuggets ran their winning streak to 10 games with a convincing 117-94 victory over the Knicks.

“I think it’s time to let everything go,” Denver coach George Karl said. “It was probably too long getting it here. The majority of people, I think right now, are hopefully getting excited about the team we have at hand.”

Former New York centerpieces Wilson Chandler (24) and Danilo Gallinari (16) combined for 40 points, while point guard Ty Lawson added 13 for the Nuggets (44-22), who also won their 14th straight home game.

“It feels good, but at the same time, we just want to keep playing the like we’ve lost five in a row – play with a chip on our shoulders,” Chandler said. “You want to close the season strong, but you worry about getting better as a team rather than a win streak.”

Anthony, booed by the sellout crowd every time he touched the ball, scored nine points on 3-for-12 shooting before leaving early in the second half with a sore right knee.

“(The crowd reaction) wasn’t too bad,” Anthony said. “Of course they were supposed to cheer for their team and boo for the New York Knicks. For the most part, the crowd was pretty together.

“It was good to be back in this building, see some people, see some old friends, see some old faces. I wish the outcome would have been a little bit different, but it is what it is. The Nuggets improved to 100-57 since trading Anthony in a 13-player megadeal that left the world wondering if Denver could survive without a superstar.

The answer is an unequivocal yes.

Building around budding star Lawson and talented young players such as Chandler, Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee, Denver is locked in a battle for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

The Nuggets are one game behind the No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers and 1.5 games back of third-seeded Memphis. The Grizzlies, winners of six straight, visit Pepsi Center on Friday night.

“It’s going to be a nice game,” Gallinari said. “We just have to do the same things we did tonight – be ready – and I think we will be fine.”

Before the showdown against Memphis, the Nuggets made sure they didn’t overlook the struggling Knicks, who dropped to 88-68 with Anthony on their roster.

Leading 33-30 early in the second quarter, Denver held New York without a field goal for a 7:32 stretch. The Nuggets outscored the Knicks 21-1 run during that span and were never threatened the rest of the way.

“We had a perfect lineup in and they tried to open the court up a little,” Denver swingman Andre Iguodala said. “Wilson comes in and we were able to run. We were in a position that we could outrun them with Ty at point and Kenneth at the five. With that lineup, we were able to rebound and get out and run.”

Denver pushed the lead to as many as 34 in the second half behind a balanced attack that has become its calling card all season.

Dealing with injuries and fatigue, the Knicks never got closer than 19 after halftime.

“It was youth versus experience,” Faried said. “We enjoyed ourselves. Guys came out and played Nuggets basketball.”

Faried posted his 28th double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Iguodala added 14 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals.

The Nuggets also got after the Knicks defensively, scoring 20 points off 17 turnovers as they improved to 29-3 at home.

“I didn’t envision that (outcome),” Anthony said. “Of course I wanted to come back here at 100 percent and give the fans what they wanted to see – give the New York Knicks fans what they wanted to see and help my teammates to a win. But obviously we couldn’t do that today.”

STAR OF THE GAME

Wilson Chandler

Points 24 9-12 FG
Rebounds 4, 0 OFF 4 DEF
Assists 0
Steals 3
Blocks 1
GAME LEADERS
Points Wilson Chandler 24
Rebounds Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos 10
Assists J.R. Smith 8
Steals Three players with 3
Blocks Kenyon Martin 4
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari on controlling the game from the opening tip

"It’s great because we came out the right way with the right focus, with the right aggressiveness. I thought we were ready to go from the beginning. We were able to get the lead and keep the lead."

KEY MOMENT

Nuggets turn up defense, break away in second quarter

The Knicks were within three when former Nuggets Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith scored on back-to-back possessions early in the second quarter, but Denver scored the next 17 points to push the lead to 20. New York went without a field goal for 7 minutes, 22 seconds.
VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On what impressed him most:
“Our defense and our aggressiveness. Individually, the guy that was most impressive was probably Wilson Chandler; just his activity and his offense. I think he has lifted our defense. I don’t know how many games in a row we’ve had 10 or more steals, but it just adds to what I’ve said over the last couple of months how good we get is going to be about our defense, not our offense. In the first half it was very active. Second half they [New York] switched everything in zoning us up. In the fourth quarter it got ugly. I think with our small line up, we were up eight or six and then they just couldn’t score and we ran by them. On almost every possession the energy in the building had electricity to it. I think our team was in a playoff intensity mode. I also thought we caught New York in a bad place; sometimes that happens.

On facing many of his former players:
“My feeling was when the game started I was more into what makes my team win and not necessarily the other team. We were trying to talk over our adjustments and what plays are hurting us, and what to talk about at timeouts and halftime.”

On what the Knicks did well:
“They move the ball and find the three ball. Then they get Carmelo Anthony in the game, and they get the pick and roll game in the game. I thought our pick and roll defense was very good too, and how we handled the ball, especially our bigs. We were trying the give [Carmelo] two as much as we could on the pick and roll. Up until the fourth quarter, we played almost every aspect of the game of basketball at a high level. When we make the three ball and get steals in the game, we’re pretty good.”

Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler

On beating the Knicks meaning something special:
“It means absolutely nothing. It was a good game. The way we have been playing, we have been playing great defense and getting out on the break and getting easy baskets with our defense.”

On keeping the winning streak going:
“It is not really the 10-straight, it is just getting better and better before the playoffs. It is important for us to build as a team.”

On team improvement over the last month:
“Oh absolutely. We have been playing with a lot of confidence. We have been playing a lot of team basketball.”

Nuggets guard/forward Andre Iguodala

On a great crowd tonight:
“The crowd was really good for us tonight but I think they tried to focus in on the Nuggets. The Knicks tried to focus in on some of our weaknesses but we played to our strengths and we came out with the win.”

On blowing the game open in the second quarter:
“Well we had a perfect lineup in and they tried to play – well not really small ball, but – they tried to open the court up a little. We had a pretty good lineup for that and Wilson [Chandler] comes in and we were able to run. We were in a position that we could outrun them with Ty [Lawson] at point and Kenneth [Faried] at the five. With that lineup, we were able to rebound and get out and run.”

On playing well in the streak:
“There are two sides to a story. Obviously we are playing really well right now. We have grown from the beginning of the year, with the first two months of the season being mainly on the road. During that time, we were trying to get acclimated with one another but as of late, we have been playing well. They have been struggling as of late with injuries, guys being in and out of the lineup. They don’t have their core lineup so they are kind of in a funk right now. It was a win, with the way we got it, I think it was right the way we won.”

Knicks coach Mike Woodson

On losing two of the best players tonight:
“When you lose two guys, and I’m not blaming it on that, we got down early with those guys in the game and a lot of it was because of our effort to get back defensively; they were really good at pushing it and we were terrible at getting back. So [Carmelo Anthony] is going to be evaluated, we are going to send him back, and Tyson [Chandler] is probable tomorrow so we just have to keep pushing.”

On Carmelo Anthony going out early in the third:
“Obviously it was bothering him so he pulled the plug on it and said he needed to go in so that’s what happened. [Carmelo] doesn’t pull out for very many games. So obviously it is bothering him and we will send him back to be evaluated.”

On a return to Denver for J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony:
“This team has played well here at home. We are playing a good team. George [Karl] has done a great job with this ball club and we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game coming in here but I expected our guys to step up and play but our guys didn’t just didn’t make plays early on. We got down early in the first quarter – I think it was a five, six point game – and they just started to pound us in terms of us not getting back in transition. That was the key to the game; we just gave up too many buckets at the rim.”

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony

On pulling the plug early in the third quarter:
“I just didn’t have it. I tried but I think it was time to give it some time and get to the bottom of it as soon as possible. It started tightening up, starting stiffening up, there were some movements I couldn’t make. Moving laterally, I felt like it I didn’t have any pop, any power. So I tried it in the second half, coming back out after halftime, and I couldn’t move out there. I’m going to go get it drained, get the fluid out, get to the bottom of it quickly so I can get back on the court.”

On his reaction to the crowd:
“It wasn’t too bad; of course they were supposed to cheer for their team and boo for the New York Knicks. They knew what they were supposed to do but for the most part, the crowd was pretty together. It was good to be back in this building; see some people, see some old friends, see some old faces. I wish the outcome would have been a little bit different but it is what it is.”

On the outcome of the game:
“I didn’t envision that. Of course I wanted to come back here at 100 percent and give the fans what they wanted to see, give the New York Knicks fans what they wanted to see and help my teammates to a win but obviously we couldn’t do that today.”

Knicks guard/forward J.R. Smith

On his concerns moving forward:
“Our heart. We’ve got to check our heart right now. We’ve got to see if we’re going to come out and compete or if we are just going to pack it in and go home. It’s just that simple, we’ve got to work on it tomorrow.”

On the loss:
“I’m very disappointed because we didn’t give the effort. I don’t mind losing but when you go out and get demolished; that’s a problem. We’re supposed to be considered one of the best teams in our division and our conference and it’s just not a good look for us.”

On moving forward after the loss:
“We’ve got to get our intensity back on the defensive end. People were just walking through, laying the ball up. The ball was getting sticky and we weren’t moving the ball like we were in the beginning of the year. Whenever that happens you’re not going to win too many games.”

On facing the Nuggets:
“They play the same way every time. You’re either going to run with them or get left behind.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Wilson Chandler led all scorers with 24 points on 9-of-12 (.750) shooting tonight while pulling down four rebounds. In the last 11 games, Chandler is averaging 15.2 points per game on .537 percent shooting and 4.3 rebounds per game. In that span, Chandler has four games with 20+ points and six games with 50%-or-better shooting.

• Additionally, it is only the third time in his career and first time with the Nuggets that Chandler has scored 20+ points while shooting above .750 percent from the field (min. 10 attempts). The last time he accomplished that in a game was 12/10/08 @ NJN (24 points; 10-of-12 FG). The Nuggets improve to 22-7 when Chandler plays compared to 22-15 when he doesn’t this year.

• Kenneth Faried scored 11 points and recorded 10 rebounds en route to his 28th double-double of the season (fourth in six games). The Nuggets are now 25-1 in Faried’s career at the Pepsi Center when he records a double-double. Additionally, Faried grabbed six offensive boards, the 12th time in his career he has registered five-or-more offensive rebounds (Nuggets 11-1).

• Kosta Koufos scored six points and came down with 10 rebounds. Koufos also grabbed 10 rebounds in the Nuggets’ win over Phoenix on 3/11. It is only the second time in his career that he has had back-to-back double-digit rebounding games.

• JaVale McGee scored eight points and recorded eight rebounds in 11:30 minutes played. It marks the first time that a Nugget has registered eight-or-more points and eight-or-more rebounds while playing less than 12 minutes since 1985-86.

• Ty Lawson scored 13 points including three three-point field goals and dished out seven assists in the victory. In his last 15 games the point guard is averaging 23.1 points and 7.5 assists. He has now made three-or-more three-pointers 24 times in his career (10 this season).

• Iman Shumpert led the Knicks with 20 points, marking the fifth time in his career he has scored 20+ points (first this season). He becomes the sixth different Knick to lead the team in scoring in the last seven games.

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat the Knicks 117-94 and have now won four straight and eight of their last nine at home over the Knicks. Denver is now 26-3 when allowing fewer than 100 points this year.

• Denver is now 29-3 at home and has won 14 straight games at Pepsi Center (longest single-season streak since winning 19 straight from 1/28/89 thru 4/20/89). They have won 10 straight games overall, the second longest active streak in the NBA.

• The Nuggets outrebounded the Knicks 53 to 33, giving them a +235 rebound advantage over their opponents this season (third in the NBA). Their +20 advantage is their second-highest of the year (were +21 vs. CLE on 1/11). Denver has outrebounded its opponent in 43 of 66 games, have had a +15 or better advantage on the boards on seven occasions and are 13-3 when grabbing 50+ boards.

• The Nuggets scored 62 points in the paint, the 15th time in the last 19 games they’ve had 60+ paint points.

• Denver was 9-of-21 (.429) from beyond the arc tonight, moving to 12-2 when making nine-or-more threes.

• The Nuggets attempted 37 free throws tonight, moving to 16-2 when attempting 30+ free throws.

• Denver registered 11 steals tonight and now has 10+ steals in 10 of its last 11 games. They are now 26-6 when collecting 10-or-more steals.

• The Nuggets scored 21 second chance points tonight and are now 15-3 when scoring 20+ second chance points.

• The Nuggets are now 30-5 when posting more points off turnovers than their opponents.

• Wilson Chandler scored 24 points off the bench, improving Denver to 11-1 when a bench player scores 20+ points.

• Tonight was just the second time this season that all 13 active players have registered a point (other time was a 122-97 win at SAC on 12/16).