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Wizards rally in fourth quarter to stun Nuggets

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com, 1-19-13

Posted Jan. 19 2013 00:48

During a successful eight-game stretch to start 2013, the Denver Nuggets excelled at their hardwood high-wire act.

They frequently rallied from sluggish starts and overcame fourth-quarter deficits as part of a thrilling 7-1 stretch.

After a forgettable road loss at Oklahoma City, the Nuggets figured to bounce back with a home game against former teammate Nene and the Washington Wizards, who had lost 16 of 17 road games to start the season.

Walking the tightrope once again, the Nuggets finally slipped and fell.

The Wizards used a 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter and the Nuggets never fully recovered in a 112-108 loss Friday night at Pepsi Center.

Despite a 29-point performance from point guard Ty Lawson, Denver could not overcome defensive deficiencies against the lowest-scoring team in the NBA. Washington shot 51.3 percent and finished with a season-high 67 points in the second half.

“The personality of the game is very similar to Minnesota, Orlando, Cleveland, and Golden State,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “All those games had similar personalities of not having enough effort, not having enough serious basketball.

“We come back and have great wins, win in the fourth-quarter, learn a little bit on how to win tough games and close games. The majority of our games have a similar personality, and it slapped us and embarrassed us tonight.”

With Lawson leading the way, the Nuggets were in position to win for the 16th time in 18 home games.

After scoring just two points in the first half, Lawson hit 8-of-8 shots – including four 3-pointers – and scored 23 points in the third quarter. It was reminiscent of his 37-point game against Minnesota on April 9, 2011, when he hit 10 consecutive 3-pointers.

Asked what he was thinking during his hot stretch Friday, Lawson said: “Get another shot up. I just felt good in the third quarter, but we didn’t do what we needed to in the fourth to win the game.”

Leading by seven heading to the fourth, the Nuggets opened the quarter with three consecutive turnovers as Washington surged to a five-point lead in a matter of 2 minutes, 24 seconds. The Wizards never trailed again.

“When a team comes into your building and gets confidence like that, it is hard to stop them when they hit every shot,” Lawson said. “They are hitting 3s, and in the post, we didn’t stop them at all. That’s what happens when we don’t stay focused.”

The Nuggets (24-18) missed 12 of 31 free throws and struggled with their defensive rotations as the Wizards connected on 11-of-23 shots from 3-point range. Trailing by two with 28.9 seconds left, Denver also failed to block out Kevin Seraphin, who scored on a key putback.

For all their mistakes, the Nuggets still had an opportunity to send the game to overtime, but Wizards point guard John Wall blocked Lawson’s shot on a drive to the basket with 2.9 seconds remaining.

“I feel like I should have stepped back and got a shot off,” Lawson said. “It was kind of tough. Next time, I’ll do better.”

While Lawson took control in the second half, teammate Corey Brewer provided a spark off the bench by scoring 15 of his 17 points in the first half. Andre Miller added 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

“If Corey Brewer doesn’t have a great half, we’d be dominated by them,” Karl said. “And Ty just has an incredible third quarter that gives us a little bit of fool’s gold that we’re going to be okay.”

After a day to regroup, the Nuggets will look to end their two-game losing streak Sunday against Oklahoma City.

“We’re definitely disappointed,” Lawson said. “It was pretty quiet in here. We have a film session to figure out the things we’re doing wrong. Hopefully we have a good showing against OKC on Sunday.”

NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME

Ty Lawson

Points 29, 11-16 FG, 3-4 FT
Rebounds 1, 0 OFF 1 DEF
Assists 6
Steals 2
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Ty Lawson 29
Rebounds Trevor Booker 8
Assists John Wall 12
Steals Andre Iguodala 5
Blocks Emeka Okafor, John Wall 2
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets coach George Karl on his team's focus

“We all got to take some responsibility; coaches have to take more responsibility, players got to take (responsibility). The value of every possession, anger and intense commitment, is the only way we are going to be a very good basketball team. If they think that’s not true, they are crazy.” "

KEY MOMENT

Wizards take control with a fourth-quarter surge

Trailing by seven points at the end of three quarters, the Wizards seized the lead by scoring the first 12 points of the fourth. The Nuggets committed three turnovers in that span and never fully recovered.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On the last minute of the game:
“I was worried the whole game. If Corey Brewer doesn’t have a great first half, we’d be dominated by them [Wizards.] I thought the Wizards were playing better basketball in many ways. Their big guys are playing well and their guards are playing well. And Ty [Lawson] just has an incredible third-quarter that gives us a little bit of fool's gold that we’re going to be okay, but our defense never responded, our big men never responded and the personality of the game is very similar to Minnesota, Orlando, Cleveland, and Golden State. All those games had similar personalities of not having enough effort, not having enough serious basketball. We come back and have great wins, win in the fourth-quarter, learn a little bit on how to win tough games and close games; those are all good things but our approach to the whole game has always been kind of working that way. We’ve been messing with fire, and tonight we got burned. The only game that didn’t have that personality was the Clipper game earlier in January. It was a defensive tough-minded game. The Laker game out in L.A. was probably a different game. The majority of our games have a similar personality that tonight had, and it slapped us and embarrassed us tonight.”

On what must change to keep losses like tonight and Oklahoma City from happening:
“Oklahoma City is acceptable, this is probably not acceptable. I’m not going to go into specifics or details about individuals. We all got to take some responsibility; coaches have to take more responsibility, players got to take [responsibility.] The value of every possession, is anger and intense commitment, is the only way we are going to be a very good basketball team. If they [Nuggets] think that’s not true, they are crazy.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On what went wrong in the fourth quarter:
“We let them get hot. The first couple of minutes, they went on a 10-0 run and when a team comes into your building and gets confidence like that, it is hard to stop them when they hit every shot. They are hitting threes and in the post, we didn’t stop them at all. That’s what happens when we don’t stay focused.”

On getting good look for his last shot:
“Not really; I feel like I should have stepped back and got a shot off. It was kind of tough. Next time, I’ll do better.”

On being patient and getting shots off:
“You have to have balance. You want to get a shot off early enough just in case you miss it so that you can get an offensive rebound and get another chance at it. You don’t want to wait until the last possible second to shoot it.”

On the team being disappointed with this loss:
“We are definitely disappointed. It’s quiet in here. We have a film session at 10 am tomorrow to wrinkle out all of the things we are doing wrong. I hope we have a good showing against [Oklahoma City] on Sunday.”

Wizards coach Randy Wittman

On the game:
“We played the game the way we wanted to play tonight. This is a very good team and we came in knowing we had to play one of our better games and we were concerned, number one, they are the best offensive rebounding team in the league, fast-break points in the league and points in the paint, and we wanted to limit at least two of those three things. We out-rebounded them in the offensive boards, 12-9, and fast-break points, 21-18 so we felt if we could do those two things, we could hang in there. I was a little concerned with our turnovers but we only had seven in the second half and 13 for the game. It was a great team win; we had guys come in like Kevin [Seraphin] and Trevor Ariza had some big shots for us. [Trevor] Booker, his minutes, he hasn’t played, he’s been injured all year, came in and gave us some solid minutes. We finally get Jordan Crawford back from injury; John [Wall] makes a hell of a block at the end and makes two free throws that sealed it so it was an all-around great effort.”

On the team’s improvement:
“I know we are 8-29 but I think we are at 16, 17, 18 games with seven points or less, five overtimes and two double overtimes. This is a team that, with all of our injuries, we have a lot of guys that weren’t in a position to have to win games at the end. I think we have learned a lot of that and now getting our guys back healthy, only adds to that.”

On John Wall coming back in the game at the end:
“He wanted to come in, I could tell at that timeout. He wanted to get that opportunity back and get the line because they were in the foul situation. He came in and made the block.”

Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal

On John Wall’s block:
“It was a great defensive play by John. We didn’t want to foul him [Ty Lawson], there was a little bit of contact so I am glad the ref didn’t call that. John was able to block the shot and get fouled and knocked down two free throws at the end of the game.”

On winning on the road:
“It feels great because this team is 15-2 at home. It is really tough to come here and win. Based on the team, it is really tough to deal with the altitude. I think we did a really great job of staying the course when they went on that run. We did a great job of defending and being able to execute on offense.”

On finishing the game:
“It feels great. Honestly, in my mind, we are 5-0 right now, win-streak-wise. It feels good because this is a great team and it shows that we are capable of competing and beating anybody. As long as we keep doing what we are doing and competing every night and playing hard, with passion and integrity, we are going to be fine.”

Wizards point guard John Wall

On his block:
“I knew they were going to go for the tie because it would be tough to get a three off of the switch, we switched everything. I saw Ty Lawson had Martell [Webster] beat and he had no other way to go up for the shot. It would be tough to get a pass off for them. I just tried to get a block without fouling. I started out the play on Andre Miller and just came over to the weak side. It was just reaction; usually they run a high pick-and-roll and it is kind of hard to stop a fast guard getting into the lane and he had been doing a good job of making threes in the second half and getting to the free throw line. I saw he had Martell beat and Martell kind of slipped; he basically had an easy layup to tie the game. I just wanted to go over there and make a play.”

On finishing the game:
“Coach [Wittman] did a good job of telling us what we had to do. We are just trying to keep improving; we gave the game away in Sacramento down the stretch. We just wanted to make plays; Trevor Ariza made great shots, [Jordan Crawford] made a big free throw, Bradley [Beal] made one. I made two; we came up big down the stretch.”

On winning on the road:
“I feel like we should have three right now but we gave the other one [Sacramento] away. I like the way the team came into practice today. We came with a lot of energy, ready to play. We knew it would be tough to come into this altitude and Denver is a great offensive rebounding team and a great fast-break team. They do well when they get over 100 points so we tried to keep them under 100 but they were getting up there.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Ty Lawson posted 29 points and six assists, the fourth time in his career he has reached those marks. The Nuggets fall to 2-2 in those occurrences and 0-2 on the season.

• It was the fifth time of Lawson’s four-year career in which he shot 80 percent or better with at least five attempts from beyond the arc (4-of-5).

• Andre Miller’s 17-point performance is tied for his fourth highest total of the season. It is the 10th time of his career hitting that mark while shooting 80 percent (8-of-10) or better from the floor. Miller also went 8-of-10 at Miami on Nov. 3, the only other occurrence this season.

• Corey Brewer recorded his 41st game scoring 17 or more points and the 31st time of his career while doing so shooting 50 percent (7-of-14) or better from the field. It is the sixth time this season Brewer has scored 17 or more; Denver is 4-2 in those contests.

• Tonight marks the 20th time this season Brewer has led the Nugget’s bench in scoring, including 16 of the last 31 games.

• Washington’s Kevin Seraphin finished with 18 points and seven rebounds, the eighth time since entering the NBA in which he has posted such numbers.

• The Wizards Bradley Beal had 23 points tonight and is averaging 20.8 points per game on 61.7 percent shooting (37-60) over the last five games. On the season Beal is averaging 13.7 points, while shooting 38.4 percent.

• John Wall registered 14 points and 12 assists off the bench, his second consecutive game with a double-double.

TEAM

• The Nuggets lost 112-108 tonight, losing for just the second time in their last 10 at home vs. Washington and the fourth time in their last 19 overall against the Wizards.

• Tonight’s loss snaps the Nuggets’ streak of 24 consecutive wins when scoring 100-or-more at Pepsi Center.

• Denver was outrebounded 45-34 tonight, the 17th time the Nuggets have been outrebounded the season and just the third time by 10-or-more.

• The Wizards are the second straight opponent to shoot over 50% at Pepsi Center after zero teams doing so in the first 16 home games.

• Tonight was the sixth time this season Denver has lost after leading by 10+ points.

• The Nuggets collected a season-high 13 steals in the loss and are now 12-3 with 10+ steals.

• The Wizards scored 67 points in the second half, a new season-high for points in a half by Washington and also the most points allowed by Denver in the second half.

• The Nuggets committed nine turnovers that resulted in zero Washington points in the first three quarters and had five turnovers that led to nine points in the fourth.