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Fournier scores career-high 25 but Nuggets fall to Suns in OT

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Feb. 19, 2014 00:45

The official box score will show that the Denver Nuggets lost to the Phoenix Suns in overtime on Tuesday night.

A potential victory actually slipped away in the final seconds of regulation.

Leading 99-94 in the last minute of the fourth quarter, Denver gave up three offensive rebounds that led to five points for Phoenix, and the Suns went on to prevail 112-107 in a back-and-forth game at Pepsi Center.

“It just came down to rebounding, and that’s the disappointing part,” Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried said. “We try to pride ourselves to be the best rebounding team in the NBA. Tonight, we didn’t show that.”

Faried finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Evan Fournier scored a career-high 25 points off the bench. It wasn’t enough to prevent Denver’s losing streak from reaching five games. The Nuggets were swept by the Suns in the season series for the first time since 2004-05.

“We were really wanting to win this one for the fans because we haven’t been playing very good lately,” Fournier said. “It’s tough, especially because we had the game with 35 seconds and we gave up (three) offensive rebounds.”

Playing at home for the first time since Feb. 5, the Nuggets fell behind by 14 points in the opening six minutes before starting to rally behind reserves Fournier, Darrell Arthur, Timofey Mozgov and Anthony Randolph.

Denver cut the deficit to one by halftime and led by as many as seven points after going on a 20-2 run to bridge the third and fourth quarters.

“I thought our guys competed better than they did in the last four or five games that we played,” Denver coach Brian Shaw said. “That was one of the things we emphasized over the last few days – go out and compete. I thought they went out there and they competed from the beginning to the end.”

After Markieff Morris tied the game on a putback with 5.7 seconds left in regulation, the Nuggets had a chance to win, but Wilson Chandler’s baseline jumper was just off the mark.

The Suns took the lead for good in overtime when Goran Dragic scored on a breakaway dunk after a jump ball at Denver’s end. The Nuggets had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but J.J. Hickson missed a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds to go.

“I knew they were going to play off of me, and I had a clear look,” Hickson said. “It actually felt good. I just missed the shot.”

The Nuggets (24-28) fell short while playing their third straight game without starting point guard Ty Lawson (fractured rib). Fournier and Randy Foye did a good job taking care of the ball, combining for nine assists and just three turnovers.

“We fought tonight,” Fournier said. “We played together. We had a great effort from everyone.

“At practice, we have to have good intensity and stay together. I think we did a pretty good job tonight of staying together and playing hard. We have to keep going that way.”


NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME

Evan Fournier

Points 25 8-19 FG, 6-7 FT
Rebounds 8, 3 OFF 5 DEF
Assists 4
Steals 2
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Gerald Green 36
Rebounds Markieff Morris 12
Assists Goran Dragic 14
Steals Four with 3
Blocks Darrell Arthur, Alex Len 2
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw on team's energy and effort

"One of the things we emphasized over the last few days was go out and compete. That’s all the fans want. I thought they went out there and they competed from the beginning to the end."

KEY MOMENT

Suns crash offensive glass to help force overtime

Trailing by five with 50 seconds remaining in regulation, the Suns forced overtime by hitting a 3-pointer after two offensive rebounds and then scoring on a putback with 5.7 seconds left.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On the Nuggets competing tonight:
“[Let’s] start out with the positives. I thought our guys competed better than they did in the last four or five games that we played. That was one of the things we emphasized over the last few days was that [we needed to] go out and compete. That’s all the fans want, that’s all you guys should want for each other and I thought they went out there and they competed from the beginning to the end.”

On the Nuggets’ defense:
“I thought our defense played well enough to come away with the win but our inability to [get] defensive rebound[s] during that critical stretch at the end fourth quarter where just one of those [Nuggets’] defensive rebounds, where they [the Suns] got the offensive rebound and the put back, allowed them to push the game into overtime.”

On Kenneth’s energy tonight:
“It was good. That’s what we have to have. It’s going to be tough because he’s playing a lot of minutes and playing with that kind of energy. You burn out quickly because you have guys at the other end that are going at him every time, he’s running out when he doesn’t get rebounds and trying to post up, he’s going after every offensive rebound and it becomes infectious. The rest of the guys pick up on that and that gives them more energy. We want consistency in his effort and I thought he played a good game today.”

On the Suns executing in overtime:
“They made the plays down the stretch that they needed to make and we didn’t.”

Nuggets guard Evan Fournier

On losing a tough game to the Suns in overtime:
“It’s a tough one—we were really wanting to win this one for the fans because we haven’t been playing very good lately. It’s tough—it’s tough, especially because we had the game with 35 seconds and we gave up two offensive rebounds.”

On being more aggressive tonight leading to a career-high 25 points:
“I just tried to be aggressive—just being myself and I had some open shots and I made them. I was just in the best opportunities tonight. I’m not going to lie, I was tired—at first it was hard, but I had the rhythm of the game and in the third quarter I had some good chances and I was open so I was more aggressive.”

On how to rebound from tonight’s loss:
“Tomorrow at practice we have to have a good practice, good intensity and stay together. I think we did a pretty good job tonight of staying together and playing hard—playing as a team and we have to keep going that way.”

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried

On tonight’s game:
“That’s a really tough loss. The team played hard and no matter what the score is we played hard. We fought and had a lot of energy and effort. We just have to make the most of our opportunities. It just came down to rebounding and that’s the disappointing part, we try to pride ourselves to be the best rebounding team in the NBA, tonight we didn’t show that.”

On the team’s fatigue:
“Evan Fournier stepped up and played his heart out. He was tired coming to the sideline that’s how I knew he was playing extra hard to get a win. I had my moments when I was tired because of the All-Star break but we played hard tonight.”

Suns coach Jeff Hornacek

On tonight's performance:

On the exciting finish:
“We got the lead and because of the days off and the elevation we tried to get guys in earlier. Our bench who usually plays well didn’t play very well tonight. We let [the Nuggets] back into the game, and we had to fight from then on.”

On being down five points with a few seconds left in the fourth quarter:
“We ran a couple of plays that we executed well. The one that Markieff [Morris] tipped in; Channing [Frye] had a wide open shot, just happened to miss it, and Morris with great anticipation rebounds it and puts it back in. The other play we had a couple of scrambles, were we kicked it out and Frye made that three, so both those plays were big.”

On the slow start in overtime and the difference in coming out with the win:
“I think defensively we did a good job. We managed to take some tough shots and we got the rebounds. We did a better job on the boards. Guys really went after it in that overtime; we got a steal and a layup which helped. That jump ball situation we got the tip. We made some plays to pull that one out.”

On the fouling to prevent a three point attempt:
“Well it didn’t really help; it gave [the Nuggets] a point. We got them (defended) at that point, so you don’t want to foul in those situations, it’s still a point. We did some things that we told the guys in the locker room that we chalk it up to five days off and coming up having to play in altitude. You could tell they were winded. We made some mental errors but still they got it out to win the game.”

Suns guard Gerald Green:

On winning first game of second-half:
“Obviously this is good win, starting the second half of the season with a win on the road against a good team that plays good at home which is Denver. This is a good start for us. Tomorrow we have a game against the Celtics and we have to continue to keep up the pace.”

On getting into foul trouble in the first half:
“I just got in foul trouble kind of early. When I was on the bench I was getting mad but my teammates just kept telling me ‘Stay in it, stay in it. Don’t let it get to you. You have the whole second half to play.’ I just tried to stay in it and see what I can do to help my team win. Guys were setting good screens for me. Goran [Dragic] was finding me. We were out there playing defense and running in transition. Everything kind of went my way today.”

On offensive role:
“My role is to be ultra-aggressive. It’s been that way since day one. Even when we are struggling or even when we’re all playing good I still feel like I need to be aggressive. I think today our timing was a little off because of the break or whatever but sometimes you need a game to get back right. I think tomorrow we’ll play much better offensively.”

On whether fatigue affected performance:
“Honestly the first 3 or 4 minutes when they called their first timeout I was dead. Other than that I was in foul trouble the whole first half so I felt like I only played a half. In overtime I was a little tired. But when you’re playing and you have the adrenaline going that’s the last thing on your mind. The thing on your mind is ‘I gotta push through it; I gotta make sure I get over this screen or make sure I get this rebound.’ I’m not thinking ‘I can’t wait for a timeout so I can get some rest.’ ”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Kenneth Faried posted 21 points and 10 rebounds tonight. It was his 13th double-double of the year and the 11th 20-point/10-rebound game of his career. The Nuggets are now 32-3 at home when Faried posts a double-double.

• Evan Fournier registered a career-high 25 points to go with a career-high eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. It was the second 20-point game of his career.

• Timofey Mozgov totaled eight points, 11 rebounds and one block. It was his seventh game of the year with 10+ rebounds.

• Gerald Green scored a career-high 36 points to go with five rebounds in 30 minutes. In four games against Denver this season, Green averaged 19.0 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 14-of-31 (.452) from three-point range.

• Goran Dragic posted 21 points, five rebounds, 14 assists and three steals. It was the 11th 20-point/10-rebound game of his career.

• Markieff Morris tallied his 11th career double-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and three steals tonight. In four games against Denver this season, Morris averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

TEAM

• With their win tonight, Phoenix ended the season series with a 4-0 sweep of Denver. It is the first time Denver has been swept by the Suns since the 2004-05 season.

• Additionally, tonight was just the sixth time a road team has won in this series since the 2006-07 season (two of those have come by Phoenix this season).

• Tonight was Denver’s first overtime game of the year. They were the last remaining team in the NBA to play an overtime game.

• Tonight’s loss was the Nuggets’ first home overtime loss since 2/6/08 vs. UTA. Denver had won eight in a row and 12 of last 14 prior tonight.

• The Suns went 11-of-29 (.379) from three-point range tonight. It was their 25th game with 10+ threes, tied with LAL for the most such games in the NBA this season.

• Denver started the game 3-of-9 from beyond the arc but finished 2-of-19 (0-7 in overtime).

• The Nuggets held the Suns to 37.6% shooting. Denver is now 6-2 on the year when holding their opponent to under 40% shooting.

• Denver shot 38.4% from the field, falling to 0-9 on the season when shooting below 40% from the field.