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Nuggets rally past Wizards for fifth straight home win

By The Associated Press

Posted March 23, 2014 19:42

DENVER (AP) -- Randy Wittman was livid with his team's rather lackadaisical play, especially this close to the postseason and against an injury depleted Denver Nuggets squad.

''We've given games away. You can't do that,'' the Washington Wizards coach said.

The Nuggets took advantage of Washington's season-high 24 turnovers - including eight by point guard John Wall - as they held on for a 105-102 win on Sunday night.

The Wizards return home 1-3 after a four-game road swing - not exactly what they were hoping for in the thick of a playoff chase.

''We thought we were going to show up and just win the game versus showing up and taking the game,'' Drew Gooden said.

But Denver stuck around even with all the team's ailments and in a season that's gone sideways. Kenneth Faried had 20 points and Aaron Brooks hit four straight free throws in the final 12 seconds, helping the Nuggets hang on for their fifth straight home win.

Randy Foye added 17 for a Nuggets team that was missing J.J. Hickson, who suffered torn ligament in his right knee on Friday. Wilson Chandler also didn't play (strained left hip) and Jan Vesely didn't return after bruising his rib cage late in the third quarter.

''You step up,'' Evan Fournier said. ''When you have an opportunity, you have to take it.''

Plus, there's always this incentive to play all out - a new deal.

''I'm getting an extension next year so I'm playing for myself and my family, playing for my teammates because I want (us) to get at least over .500, that's the least we can do,'' Faried said. ''We know we're not going to make the playoffs, but we're going to keep fighting.''

Bradley Beal wound up with 21 points for Washington and Trevor Ariza scored 18, but only three after the first quarter.

About that first quarter: That's when things really began to unravel for the Wizards. They were up 14 late in the period before taking the foot off the gas pedal.

That allowed the Nuggets to creep back in.

''Feel like we could've won this game (if) we opened it up,'' said Wall, whose eight turnovers were a season high. ''But we turned the ball over too much.''

Precisely Wittman's feelings, too.

''We aren't going to beat anybody with 24 turnovers. Doesn't matter who you're playing or who's playing or who's not playing or where you're playing,'' Wittman said. ''We've got to somehow handle the success that we have in a game better than we do.''

Fournier's floating jumper with 7:36 remaining ignited a 7-0 run that gave the Nuggets a 91-84 lead, which they wouldn't relinquish, thanks to Brooks hitting four free throws to close it out with the game still tight.

Hickson was the latest player to be lost by the Nuggets. They were already without Danilo Gallinari (left ACL), JaVale McGee (broken tibia) and Nate Robinson (left ACL), who all have undergone season-ending operations.

Vesely was having one of his best games of the season, before leaving the late in the third quarter with a bruised rib cage. He had 10 points in 15 minutes.

Andre Miller made his return to the Pepsi Center for the first time since New Year's Day, when he got into an on-court confrontation with former coach Brian Shaw.

Miller, now a backup guard with the Wizards, was originally suspended by the Nuggets, but it was later rescinded. Miller stayed away from the squad until he was dealt to the Wizards on Feb. 20.

Both Miller and Shaw said before the game they've moved on from the incident. To show it, they shook hands when Miller entered the game to start the second quarter.

''(Shaw) said a couple of things, good luck, good luck, that's it,'' Miller said. Shaw has no hard feelings, either.

''I'm sure both of us didn't take this personal,'' Shaw said. ''It's unfortunate that it had to happen and neither one of us wanted that to happen but I don't have a problem with him. I have the most respect for Andre Miller.''

NOTES: Asked about being fined $15,000 by the NBA for attempting to throw the Lakers' Nick Young to the floor on Friday, Gooden simply said, ''no comment.'' ... Denver's bench scored 52 points. Darrell Arthur led the way with 15. ... Shaw said of the mounting injuries his team has suffered this season: ''I hope it's karma in reverse and that all of the bad stuff is out of the way this year and everything will be uphill from here on out.''


STAR OF THE GAME

Kenneth Faried

Points 20 8-15 FG, 4-5 FT
Rebounds 8, 1 OFF 7 DEF
Assists 0
Steals 1
Blocks 3
GAME LEADERS
Points Bradley Beal 21
Rebounds Marcin Gortat 10
Assists Ty Lawson 8
Steals Ty Lawson 4
Blocks Kenneth Faried 3
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur on team staying together

"We just have to turn to each other; we can’t turn against each other. We have to play hard every game like we did tonight, and no matter how many points we’re down just keep fighting, clawing and find a way to win."

KEY MOMENT

Denver makes decisive run midway through fourth quarter

Trailing by a point with 8:40 to play, the Nuggets went on an 9-1 run capped by Darrell Arthur’s 3-pointer from the right wing. Denver was able to protect the lead by hitting 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On tonight’s game:
“It was a ugly game for us but I thought that are bench saved us for the most part. The first half when we were down, the bench came in and put us in range to win because the starters started off slow. We needed our bench to show up tonight. We did a better job guarding Trevor Ariza in the second half, he had 17 at halftime and ended up with 18 so that was a positive. There were a couple close calls at the end of the game because we were not alert on their inbound plays but we had a good enough lead to still win the game.”

On Jan Vesely:
“He has a bruised rib and that’s tough because his whole side was exposed when he went up for that pump fake, he had no way of protecting himself. I don’t know what his status is for tomorrow’s game but whoever is available we still have to get the win. Injuries are part of the game so as long as we have enough players on the floor we still have to compete to get the win.”

On Darrell Arthur:
“Darrell Arthur helps the team a lot because he spaces the floor for us, he has the ability to shoot the ball and now he is expanding his game to three point range. He is still catching teams off guard so after timeouts I will have him in position where he is spaced out. Teams are used to our power forwards always in the paint so there instincts are to protect the paint, so when he goes in we want him to find a rhythm behind the three point line. He has the green light to shoot, all year I have been telling the guys if you’re open shoot the shot.”

Nuggets guard Evan Fournier

On overcoming injuries this season and the loss of J.J. Hickson:
“Being aggressive—I think Jan [Vesely] did a great job helping us inside. He was very active running and rebounding and he stepped up. When you have an opportunity you have to take it, and that’s what he did.”

On getting the win tonight before playing in Oklahoma City tomorrow night:
“It’s good to get a win tonight so we can focus on the big game tomorrow night against a great team. It’s going to be a challenge for us with only 10 bodies available. We’re getting better and it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.”

On how they matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant:
“That’s a tough question. You just have to stay in front of him, don’t foul him because he gets to the free throw line a lot and just be aggressive—no fear and play him straight up.”

Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur

On how they keep moving forward after losing another player to a season-ending injury:
“We just have to turn to each other; we can’t turn against each other. We have to play hard every game like we did tonight, and no matter how many points we’re down just keep fighting, clawing and find a way to win.”

On if he thinks the rest of the year is a chance to get ready for the 2014-15 NBA season:
“Yeah, for sure—I think guys are getting a chance to play who didn’t earlier in the season. Guys are stepping up and making plays for themselves and earning more minutes.”

On him adding the three-point aspect of his game to the team’s offense:
“It’s just a shot that’s been open for me. I’m not trying to force anything, just let the game come to me and take open shots. (On Coach Shaw saying he has a green light) Yeah, when I’m open and in the rhythm of our offense and the ball comes to me—I’m not going to force anything. I’m definitely not a selfish player, but when I have an open shot I’ll take it.”

Wizards coach Randy Wittman

On tonight’s performance:
“We aren’t going to beat anybody with 24 turnovers. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, who’s playing or not playing, or where you’re playing. In the first quarter we came out and played through our system, moving the ball and guys in the right spots. All of the sudden we’re up 14 and from there it just stopped. It’s the same thing over and over.”

On what he told the team after the game:
“I told them we’ve given games away. We can’t do that coming down the stretch. That’s where they have to grow up. They have to grow up and understand that, understand what lies ahead. You have seven out of eight playoff teams or teams fighting for the playoffs. When you give away a couple games away like we did that doesn’t send a good message of where our thought process is in this whole thing.”

Wizards point guard John Wall:

On what caused the loss:
“It’s just careless turnovers and over-dribbling, especially with me jumping in the air and looking for passes where guys could’ve been but we didn’t do a good job of spacing. I feel like we could’ve won this game with how we opened up but we turned the ball over too much and they kept making shots and sticking around.”

On what the Nuggets did defensively:
“I got the shots I wanted. I have to make a couple easy layups at the rim. Other than that, my jump shots I was making. Then they started to come out and trap me a little bit so I just tried to make the right pass. Sometimes they’d just get a finger on it. But mostly it was little careless turnovers that cost us this game.”

Wizards guard Andre Miller:

On playing against former team:
“It was cool. I would’ve liked to get a win but it didn’t happen. Just move onto the next game … Just move on. Good luck to that team in the future. I hate to lose the game but we just need to move on and worry about what we’re trying to accomplish as a team over here.”

On meeting with Brian Shaw:
“I was actually getting ready to head over to the bench I think because I was supposed to sub in. We just said a couple things like ‘Good luck.’ That’s it.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Kenneth Faried totaled 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in 32 minutes. It was his 12th 20-point performance of the year and the first game of his career reaching 20+ points, 8+ rebounds and 3+ blocks.

• Randy Foye registered 17 points (5-9 3FG) and two blocks today. Foye has made 5+ three-pointers in three straight games, the longest such streak of his career. He has now recorded 2+ blocks 24 times in his career, with five of those games coming this season.

• Darrell Arthur posted 15 points (3-4 3FG), five rebounds and two steals. It was his second straight home game in which he’s hit a career-high three three-pointers. Arthur began the season 4-of-12 (.250) from beyond the arc through 51 games and has since gone 11-of-17 (.647) in his last seven games.

• Ty Lawson had nine points, eight assists and a season-high tying four steals. It was the 15th game of his career with 4+ steals, with four of those games coming in March 2014.

• Bradley Beal had 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block. It was the first time in his career reaching all those numbers and sixth time posting 20+ points and 7+ rebounds.

• John Wall committed a season-high eight turnovers, just the sixth time in his career he has turned it over eight-or-more times.

TEAM

• With today’s win, Denver extends their home winning streak to five games, their longest streak since they won six straight at home from 11/7 to 11/29.

• Denver has now won nine of their last 11 games over Washington at Pepsi Center and 17 of the last 22 overall matchups with the Wizards. However, the last five meetings between Denver and Washington have been decided by 18 total points.

• The Nuggets trailed by as many as 14 in today’s win. It was their second largest comeback of the year and the 12th time this season they’ve won after trailing by 10-or-more points.

• Denver collected 15 steals, their most in a game since they had 15 vs. POR on 4/14/13. Dating back to Jan. 2003, Denver is 30-7 when registering 15-or-more steals.

• The Nuggets forced Washington into an opponent season-high tying 24 turnovers that resulted in 30 points, the second most points off turnovers this season.

• Denver hit 11 three-point field goals, improving to 14-7 when making 10 or more this season.

• The Wizards outrebounded Denver 46-38 today. Denver had outrebounded their opponents in six straight games from 3/10 to 3/19 but have been outrebounded by a combined 21 in their last two games.

• Washington has now lost eight straight road games against Northwest Division opponents.