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Chandler matches career-high, Lawson hits game-winner to beat Oklahoma City

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted March 2 2013 01:52

About two hours before a showdown against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wilson Chandler sprained his right ankle while warming up on the Nuggets practice court.

“I was really worried,” he said.

His concern was unfounded.

Chandler matched his career-high with 35 points, setting the stage for Ty Lawson’s game-winning shot with 0.2 seconds remaining as the Nuggets beat the Thunder 105-103 in a Friday night thriller at Pepsi Center.

Chandler made 6-of-7 3-pointers and finished 13-of-19 from the field. His 35 points off the bench also matched Samuel Dalembert for the NBA high by a reserve this season.

“I just felt confident,” Chandler said. “I was taking shots in rhythm. That’s the biggest thing, just being confident. It feels pretty good, but to get the ‘W’ is even better.”

The Nuggets (38-22) won their 10th straight home game. The streak started with an overtime win against Oklahoma City on Jan. 20, and the rematch lived up to its billing.

Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook finished with 38 points, but Denver countered with a 71-11 advantage in bench scoring. With Chandler leading the way, fellow reserves Corey Brewer and Andre Miller added 14 points apiece. Brewer also had five steals, while Miller finished with seven assists.

“(The reserves have) been really good for us,” Denver swingman Andre Iguodala said. “They’ve formed a consistency about themselves. They have been a huge plus. They’re maybe more important than the starting five for our team. They’ve won a lot of games for us, and tonight was another one.”

Behind their strong bench play, the Nuggets built a 12-point lead in the third quarter and were still up 11 when Danilo Gallinari scored on a dunk with 9:36 remaining.

The Thunder, who had won three straight games by an average of 30.3 points, responded with a 13-2 run to tie the game at 91, leading to a dramatic final 6 minutes that had the feel of a playoff game.

Chandler scored from the low block to give Denver a 103-101 lead with 22.4 seconds left, only to see Kevin Durant counter with a driving bank shot with 17.6 remaining.

The Nuggets called a timeout to set up a play for Lawson, who was 4-for-13 from the field up to that point. With Oklahoma City’s best defender Thabo Sefolosha guarding him near the 3-point line, Lawson ran the clock down as far as he could and rose up for a jumper.

“It felt good,” he said. “That’s probably one of the best shots I had all night, as far as how it felt. The rest of them really didn’t feel like they were going in.”

The shot splashed through with 0.2 seconds to go, leaving the Thunder with little chance to counter. Sefolosha tried to find Westbrook on a lob pass to the rim, but Gallinari intercepted it to secure the victory.

“We made it tough for ourselves down the stretch,” Iguodala said. “Maybe early in the season, we would’ve broke down and lost the game. But it showed some growth how we continued to grind it out and pulled it out at the end.”

After improving to 25-3 at Pepsi Center, the Nuggets earned a day off. They will practice Sunday in advance of Monday’s home game against the Atlanta Hawks.

STAR OF THE GAME

Wilson Chandler

Points 35 13-19 FG
Rebounds 3, 0 OFF 3 DEF
Assists 1
Steals 0
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Russell Westbrook 38
Rebounds Kevin Durant 14
Assists Ty Lawson, Andre Miller 7
Steals Corey Brewer 5
Blocks Four with 3
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson on running down the clock before taking the game-winning shot

"We didn’t want to give them a chance. We either wanted overtime or just win the game right there at the end of regulation."

KEY MOMENT

Ty Lawson runs clock down and the swishes game-winner

Matched up on the perimeter against Oklahoma City guard Thabo Sefolosha, Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson gave a quick jab step and then swished a long jumper to put Denver ahead 105-103 with 0.2 seconds remaining.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On the win:
“Well, we owe this one to Wilson Chandler. He was great. We wanted to play small against their big lineup because Scott [Brooks] always plays small against me. His substitution was quicker and earlier, and then he has a great game. I didn’t think [Danilo Gallinari] was very good or healthy. We weren’t great defensively but we had moments where we were good. I thought it was a hell of an NBA game.”

On the final play:
“We were trying to get a matchup for Ty [Lawson] or [Danilo Gallinari]. They switched well, they switched everything on the plan and Ty had the space to play and he did.”

On Ty Lawson:
“I was telling him [Ty Lawson] all game, ‘why was he taking their big and trying to get to the rim?’ He had three or four shots like he made in Portland where he would drive at them and get them on their heels and jump up and shoot it. Ty didn’t have that ultra-confidence but he had the courage to take the last shot. We are all happy tonight because of it.”

On Ty Lawson’s growth:
“I think Ty, for me, is sustaining his special play for a longer period of time. I would like him to be more of a leader, both in our philosophies and also defensively. I think [Andre] Iguodala and all my starters need to be more focused in defensively. Too many times we start the game and all of the sudden have to make adjustments because we are getting behind or not focused-in. It might be that time of season but I think I have too many good players that if they don’t want to give me the focus, then I will just start finding the best players early in the game.”

Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler

On his performance:
“I just felt confident. I was taking shots in rhythm. That’s the biggest thing, just being confident. It feels pretty good, but to get the ‘W’ is even better.”

On beating Oklahoma City:
“It feels good because they are one of the better team. It’s good to see us play well down the stretch because they’ve got two guys who can close down the stretch. They got a good run towards the end of the game. Ty [Lawson] has been playing great the last few games, so when the ball left his hand I thought it was good.”

On his thoughts before the game:
“I thought I was going to have a good game, but 35 [points], no. I was just playing in my rhythm and taking the open shots. We play team ball. We’ve got a lot of guys that can score.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On his game-winning shot:
“That shot had a high chance of going in, it was a good look. It definitely was [the game plan]. When we give Oklahoma City any time to shoot, [Kevin Durant] and Russell [Westbrook] are big shot makers. We didn’t want to give them a chance, we either wanted overtime and to just win in overtime or just win the game right there at the end of regulation.”

On 10-game home winning streak:
“I think everyone is just more confident. Our fans get behind us. Sometimes on the road we may start off slow, and it’s hard to get back. We started off slow today but came back and played strong through our fans. We’re comfortable at home.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks

On Denver’s points in transition:
“They are a good team. They have a great home court crowd and they got behind them and it was a good game. They jumped on us in the second quarter and then in the fourth quarter, up 10, I like the way we battled. We gave up 40 teams in the paint; they are the best in the league but they shouldn’t score 40 in a half on us. We did a better job, 20 points in the second half but it was a well-played game. Both teams played hard; unfortunately we came away with the loss.”

On Wilson Chandler coming off the bench:
“He is a great asset to have. That is one of the strengths of their team; they are deep, they have a lot of great players that play; a lot of skilled players that can do multiple things. Thirty, 35, 36 points, you don’t expect that [out of Wilson Chandler] and I give him credit. He stepped up when the moment was needed and made big shots.”

On Kevin Martin not making shots:
“He didn’t shoot the ball as well as he shot all year. He didn’t have a great shooting night but I’m not worried about Kevin. It’s the defense in the second half that we can talk about and we played much better, too many points in the first half. I give them credit; they played a good ball game.”

On Thunder defense during Denver’s last possession:
“We switched and he made a tough shot. He made a contested shot over one of our best defenders and sometimes that’s the way it goes. A lot of times we have made that stop but I give him credit. He stepped up and made a tough shot.”

Thunder forward Kevin Durant

On OKC bench getting outscored 71-11:
“We just have to do a better job of helping them out. We have to give them a better cushion and when they come in, I need to do a better job of helping them. That second quarter, we got down 12 to 14 points and that’s really hard to overcome especially in this building. They made some shots too; Wilson Chandler was hitting some tough shots over hands and deep threes and Ty [Lawson] hit the tough game winner. I think we fought; we always fight. We made it a game by tying it up at the end. We made them shoot the shot we wanted them to shoot at the end. You have to tip your hat; he made it.”

On what the Thunder did to get back in the game:
“We just started playing defense I think. We made great plays; I think Russell [Westbrook] was making the right plays. When the guy has it going, we have to keep feeding him. He made the right play every time down. We held them in the half court I think. We are a good defensive team. We hold teams to one shot pretty well. We gave them the lead for a second and then the game kind of flip-flopped at the end. They hit a tough shot to beat us.”

On giving up early lead in game:
“We just have to do a better job. Whoever comes in the game has to play with a sense of urgency and fight; we can’t let them hit us first. We have to hit them first, we have to do that all game, from first guy to last guy on the bench.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Wilson Chandler scored 35 points off the bench tonight on 13-of-19 (.684) shooting, including 6-of-7 (.857) from beyond the arc. The 35 points ties the NBA season high for points scored off the bench in regulation (Samuel Dalembert – 35 points, 2/5/13 @ DEN). Chandler becomes the fifth player this season to scored 35+ points, shoot above 65%, and hit five-or-more three-point shots in a game (Paul Pierce, Steph Curry, Nicolas Batum, James Harden).

• In the effort, Chandler tied his career high for points in a game (35 – 2/10/09 vs. SAC) as well as his most threes in a game (six – done twice, most recently 2/25/09 vs. ORL).

• Kosta Koufos recorded eight points and 13 rebounds in tonight’s victory. Coming into this season, Koufos had eight games with 10+ boards in his career. Tonight marked the ninth 10+ rebound game this season for the big man. Additionally, it is the 19th game in his career with three-or-more blocks (16th time with Denver; Nuggs 13-3).

• Corey Brewer scored 14 points tonight and tied a career high by registering five steals in the victory. Brewer has now recorded a steal in six-straight games and is averaging 2.17 spg in those games.

• Andre Miller registered 14 points and seven assists off the bench tonight. It is the 24th time this season (12th time at home) that Miller has dished out seven-or-more assists in a game. The Nuggets improve to 10-2 on the season when Miller accomplishes this at the Pepsi Center.

• Kevin Martin tied a season-low with three points in tonight’s contest. He finished 1-of-5 from the field and had four turnovers.

• Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 38 points and added six rebounds and five assists. It is only the third time in his career that he has reached these totals in the same game (last time – 12/1/10 vs. NJN). In three contests this season, Westbrook is averaging 35.3 ppg against Denver, his highest average against any team.

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat the Thunder 105-103 and have now won nine out of the last 11 home games over the Thunder. Denver is now 24-3 at home and have won 10 straight at Pepsi Center (longest streak since winning 10 straight from 2/10/11 thru 3/30/11).

• Denver’s bench scored a season-high 71 points tonight, their most bench points since they had 74 on 3/16/08 vs. SEA. However, Denver’s starters scored 94 points in that game, while their starters scored just 34 tonight (Westbrook alone had 38 points for Oklahoma City).

• The Nuggets recorded 14 steals tonight, moving to 21-6 when they have 10-or-more steals. It’s Denver’s fifth straight game with 11-or-more steals.

• Denver scored 60 points in the paint tonight, their fifth straight game with 60+ in the paint (11th of last 13). The Nuggets are averaging 62.2 points in the paint in their last five games. Denver has now scored 60+ paint points 23 times and 70+ points six times.

• Denver registered 19 points off turnovers compared to the Thunder’s 15 and are now 25-5 when outscoring their opponent in points off turnovers.

• The Nuggets shot 12 of 17 (.706) from the free throw line while Russell Westbrook had the exact same amount of makes and attempts as the entire Nuggets team. The Thunder were 24 of 34 (.706) from the charity stripe tonight.