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Brewer's heroics help Nuggets escape with 14th straight victory

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted March 22 2013 00:38

The streak was 6 feet under ground, with dirt starting to sprinkle down upon the casket.

The eulogy would commend the Denver Nuggets for a memorable four-week run that ranked as the best stretch since the team joined the NBA in 1976.

Given up for dead, the Nuggets remarkably rose from the grave.

Corey Brewer’s three free throws capped Denver’s most improbable victory of the season as the Nuggets scored six points in the final 10 seconds to rally for a 101-100 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.

“It was just a crazy game,” Denver swingman Andre Iguodala said. “It was one of those games that you think you lost and it’s pretty much out of your hands but you find a way to win. Things weren’t going our way, but we just kept fighting to the end.”

With the comeback, the Nuggets (48-22) extended their team-record winning streak to 14 games and clinched a playoff spot for the 10th consecutive season. Denver also moved within 2.5 games of Northwest Division-leading Oklahoma City and is in a virtual tie with Memphis for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

Keeping pace in the West wasn’t easy.

Playing without starting point guard Ty Lawson (strained/bruised heel) and key reserve forward Wilson Chandler (separated shoulder), the Nuggets struggled to pull away from a 76ers team coming off a blowout loss in Los Angeles 24 hours earlier.

“I thought Philadelphia was more athletic than us most of the night,” Denver coach George Karl said. “We missed Wilson’s defense and his alertness. We missed Ty’s quickness. When you take guys out, sometimes the puzzle doesn’t fit.”

Philadelphia forced Denver into 20 turnovers and led by eight points after Damien Wilkins scored over Andre Miller with 2:07 remaining.

The Sixers were still up five after two free throws by Jrue Holiday with 14.3 seconds left, but Brewer hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to bring Denver within two.

After nearly coming up with a steal on an inbounds pass, the Nuggets fouled Evan Turner, who left the door open by missing two free throws with 7.1 seconds to go.

“When they went and missed those two free throws, I thought we had a little chance and it gave us life,” Brewer said.

In the timeout, Karl drew up a play for Brewer to come off a screen and attack from the top of the key. Instead of going into the paint, Brewer pulled up from behind the 3-point line and got fouled by Wilkins with 2.1 seconds left.

“I was just trying to challenge the shot aggressively ,” Wilkins said. “I was being overly aggressive, and it cost us one.”

Brewer calmly hit all three free throws, giving him a career-high 29 points on the night.

“I was trying to be confident,” said Brewer, now shooting .675 from the foul line this season. “I knew I needed to make two out of three, and once I made the first one, a little pressure was off. With the second one and third one, I just tried to be confident and knock them down.”

Needing one final stop, the Nuggets clinched the win when Anthony Randolph blocked Wilkins’ shot attempt from just inside the 3-point line. Fittingly, the ball settled in Brewer’s hands as the celebration ensued.

“It wasn’t fun, but it ended up being fun,” Karl said.

“You can’t play well all the time. It’s when you don’t play well that you have to figure out how to come up with a win. I’m not going to deny that this was somewhat lucky, but Corey had a hot game and he had huge (guts).”

A little good fortune is a key component in any long winning streak. The stars certainly aligned for Denver on Thursday night.

The late rally marked the first time since Nov. 2, 1999, that the Nuggets recovered from a deficit of at least eight points in the game’s final 2:07.

“We found a way to win and that’s what matters,” Miller said. “The luck just went our way tonight.”

Miller finished with 21 points and eight assists while starting in place of Lawson. Randolph came off the bench and made some key plays down the stretch to help the Nuggets improve to 31-3 at Pepsi Center.

“It’s great, it’s great,” Randolph said. “I’ve never been on a winning team like this. I’m just enjoying it. Hopefully it carries over to the playoffs.”

Randolph and his teammates will get a chance to match the longest win streak in franchise history Saturday night against the Sacramento Kings. The Nuggets were part of the ABA when they won 15 in a row during the 1969-70 season.

STAR OF THE GAME

Corey Brewer

Points 29 10-18 FG, 5-6 FT
Rebounds 1, 0 OFF 1 DEF
Assists 0
Steals 5
Blocks 1
GAME LEADERS
Points Corey Brewer 29
Rebounds Spencer Hawes 12
Assists Jrue Holiday 15
Steals Corey Brewer 5
Blocks Spencer Hawes 4
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets coach George Karl on surviving a close call against Philadelphia

"Good teams don’t play well all the time. We had two of our main guys out and still figure out how to beat a team that has been playing pretty well. It’s a good win; it has the same value as the one in Oklahoma City"

KEY MOMENT

Stars align for Nuggets in game's final 14 seconds

Down by 5 with 14.3 seconds left, the Nuggets pulled within two on Corey Brewer's 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds remaining. Evan Turner then missed two free throws, and Brewer knocked down three go-ahead free throws to complete the improbable comeback.
VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On the outcome of the game:
“It wasn’t fun, but it ended up being fun.”

On Philadelphia:
“To be honest with you, I thought Philadelphia was more athletic than us most of the night. We missed Wilson [Chandler’s] defense and his alertness. We missed Ty [Lawson’s] quickness. When you take guys out sometimes the puzzle doesn’t fit. I thought from the very beginning of the game, they [Philadelphia] was quicker and faster than we were. Our guys had some energy going into the second quarter. I think we overcame a lazy mental habit and preparation of the game. In the same sense as poorly as we played, I think it was a positive sign. Good teams don’t play well all the time. We had two of our main guys out. We don’t play and still figure out how to beat a team that has been playing pretty well. It’s a good win; it has the same value as the one in Oklahoma City.”

On the slower pace:
“[Ty Lawson’s absence] and them [Philadelphia] shooting 56 percent. I thought our shot challenges were good but there two and three men get forty points on jump shots. In the fourth quarter we didn’t make any stops. The game was in reach, but we have to make stops. Our stops came; we got a steal and missed free throws.”

On final play of the game [that led to Corey Brewer’s 3 free throws]:
“Corey had the hot hand tonight. Gallo was a decoy. Corey did a great job of running up for the handoff, going back door and coming off the screen. I wish he would have taken one more dribble; he was taking a 28-footer instead of a 23-footer. It goes in the category of a lucky win.”

Nuggets forward Corey Brewer

On three free throws at the end of the game:
“I was trying to be confident. I knew I needed to make two out of three and once I made the first one, a little pressure was off and with the second one and third one, I just tried to be confident and knock them down.”

On the play that he was fouled on in the end:
“Coach [Karl] ran it for [Dre] to come off and [Danilo Gallinari] to keep it and I was coming out of the corner for the hand-off and I was able to get it. [Danilo] handed it off - I saw him coming - and somehow I was able to get it off quick. He hit my arms and I will take the foul.”

On the insanity of the end of the game:
“It was crazy. I didn’t think we had any chance to win, and it was tough. When they [76ers] went and missed those two free throws, I thought we had a little chance and it gave us life and we had the chance to win.”

Nuggets point guard Andre Miller

On the game:
“It was a tough effort. They [76ers] played good basketball and they forced us to turn the ball over, then they slowed us down a little bit. Both teams were winded. The luck just went our way tonight.”

On Corey Brewer:
“We needed everybody. Corey came in and gave us a big game. We didn’t give up at the end; they missed their free throws and fortunately, we were able to get that shot. It was a great effort by both teams, a great effort by our bench being ready. Anthony Randolph came in and played some good basketball.”

On Anthony Randolph’s block at the end of the game:
“You don’t even want to see the ball go towards the rim. It is two guys that are seven-feet out there. It helps when they contest the shot.”

76ers coach Doug Collins

On how the 24 second shot-clock violation changed the momentum:
“We made five bad plays. We had a shot-clock violation, we missed a layup, gave up a dunk, we gave up a 3, we missed two free throws, and we fouled a 3-point shooter and we lose by one.”

On a disappointing end:
“Sure, absolutely. We had the ball the one time, I think it was 98-91 and there was a scrum, we missed a layup, gave up a dunk and didn’t get it back, had a shot clock violation, gave up a three, missed two free throws, and fouled a three-point shooter, so I don’t know what else you could ask me to do to dissect the game. We had the game in hand; we could have had that game. They are riding high, but we had to win that game. We are out here scratching on the road and we aren’t giving up on this season. We aren’t going to make the playoffs but we aren’t giving up on this season. This is disappointing; we have guys that played in 18 playoff games. ”

On the disappointment of Spencer Hawes fouling out of the game:
“Sure because Spencer gives us another playmaker on the floor at the end of the game.”

On trying to talk to Evan Turner after the foul shots:
“We just have to get a stop; we’re winning. We’re winning the game. We were up two at that time. We were winning so you have to move on to the next play. We’re winning. You can’t dwell on that.”

76ers guard/forward Evan Turner

On the loss:
“That’s it. There anyone to point the finger at. What could have gone wrong did go wrong. Once again, the effort was there, the energy was there we just couldn’t close out the game.”

On closing out games:
“That’s not what lost us the game [shot clock violation and turnovers]. Situations occurred and you don’t want to point fingers at anybody. That was some crazy stuff that just happened. I don’t know what else to tell you. The season has already been rough, that’s one where you just shake your head. It almost seems like a fluke to me.”

On the final offensive possession:
“We were trying for Jrue [Holiday] on the backdoor, he wasn’t open. Dorell [Wright], I didn’t really see him. Damien [Wilkins] told me he was coming to get the ball. Honestly, since Jrue wasn’t open, that’s who I looked for [Damien].

76ers guard Damien Wilkens

On his foul on Corey Brewer:
“I don’t know. The referee said I fouled him. I was just trying to challenge the shot aggressively. I was a bit too aggressive and I cost my team the win.”

On how the game ended:
“It was interesting; we had a lot of misfortune. I fouled a guy shooting a three-pointer when we were up two. We didn’t deserve to win that game. I was being overly aggressive and it cost us one. Live and we learn.”

On losing after being in control most of the game:
“That’s what makes it tough to swallow. We put ourselves in a position to win; we made the right plays when we needed to.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Kosta Koufos led the team with 18 points on 7-of-9 (.777) shooting and 16 rebounds (seven offensive). The 16 rebounds are a new career high (previous – 14 twice, most recently on 12/18/12 vs. SAS) while his seven offensive boards ties his career-high (also had seven on 12/17/10 at POR ).

• Koufos becomes only the sixth Nugget in team history with 18+ points and 16+ boards while shooting .777-or-better in a game (first since Kenneth Faried on 3/17/12 vs. BOS).

• Koufos is averaging 15.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.33 blocks per game in the last three contests. Additionally, Koufos has recorded double-digit rebounds in all three of those games. It is the first time in his career that he has had three consecutive games with 10+ rebounds.

• Koufos also blocked three shots, marking the 12th time he has blocked three-or-more shots in a game this season (Nuggets 11-1). It is only the second time that the big man has recorded a double-double while also recording three-or-more blocks (previous – 11/9/12 vs. UTA).

• Corey Brewer led the bench with 11 points, marking the 28th time he has led the bench in scoring this season (third time in the last four games).

• Andre Iguodala registered eight points, seven rebounds, and seven assists tonight. It is the 82nd time in his career (eighth this season) he has reached those numbers in a game. His respective teams have won 13-straight games when he accomplishes those numbers.

• Kenneth Faried blocked four shots tonight, marking the fifth time he has blocked four-or-more shots in a game (fourth time this season).

• Zach Randolph registered 18 points and 18 rebounds (10 offensive) tonight, the 26th time in his career he has reached those numbers in the same game. It is only the ninth time in his career he has had 10+ offensive boards.

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat the Grizzlies 87-80, extending their winning streak to 11 consecutive games. It is Denver’s longest win streak since 2/24/83 through 3/15/83 (also 11 games). The Nuggets have now won 26 of their last 28 home games over Memphis.

• Denver is now 30-3 at home and has won 15 straight games at Pepsi Center (longest single-season streak since winning 19 straight from 1/28/89 thru 4/20/89).

• The Nuggets allowed just 80 points, the second fewest they have given up this year (LAC had 78 on 1/1). The Grizzlies’ 33 second-half points is an opponent season-low. Denver is now 28-3 when allowing 100-or-fewer points and 11-2 when holding their opponent under 90.

• Denver’s 87 points is their third lowest total of the year and their fewest in a win since they had 82 at ORL on 2/9/11. Denver’s 10 points in the third is their fewest in a quarter since they had 10 at SAS on 2/20/07.

• The Nuggets trailed by eight heading into the fourth, tying their largest deficit overcome entering the fourth (was down eight vs. GSW on 1/13). Tonight was the 10th time this season the Nuggets have overcome a 10+ point deficit.

• Denver was just 1-of-12 (.083) from beyond the arc tonight, their fewest three-point makes in a win since they were 1-of-13 vs. POR on 11/14/07. The only other game since then that Denver made one-or-fewer threes was their 0-for-22 game at POR on 12/20.

• The Nuggets recorded 10 blocks tonight and are 10-3 on the year when they have 10-or-more rejections.

• The Nuggets are now 31-5 when posting more points off turnovers than their opponents.