Faried fills stat sheet to help Nuggets finish Lakers

Denver forward scores career-high 32 points and adds 13 rebounds in win
by Aaron Lopez

Welcome to the Manimal Kingdom.

A place where Kenneth Faried attacks the rim.

A place where Kenneth Faried crashes the boards.

A place where Kenneth Faried facilitates the fast break and shows a feathery touch on his midrange shot.

The Manimal was in full beast mode Friday night against the Lakers, scoring a career-high 32 points on 14-of-20 shooting to help the Nuggets push past Los Angeles 134-126 at Pepsi Center.

He also had 13 rebounds and three steals to become the fifth Nuggets since 1985-86 to record at least 32 points, 13 rebounds and three steals in the same game.

“This game’s all about energy,” Denver point guard Ty Lawson said. “Whoever plays with the most energy is going to get a lot of points and rebounds. You know he brings it, so I’m happy for him.”

The indication that Faried was in for a big night came less than four minutes into the game when he stripped the ball from Wesley Johnson, dribbled down the right side of the floor and threw a perfect one-hand bounce pass to Timofey Mozgov for a layup.

“When he’s under control, he’s been one of our best decision-makers on the break,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “I’ve given him the green light to do that. As long as he continues to produce, he’s going to continue to have the green light.”

Because of his production, Faried played 38 minutes for just the third time in 58 games this season. Fatigue began to show in the fourth quarter, but he still came up with a big offensive rebound and a basket when the Lakers were trying to make things interesting in the final two minutes.

“I was tired,” he said. “I was still able to push through it, still able to keep fighting and keep going. I wanted to win more than I was tired. When you have that passion, you keep fighting and keep pushing through no matter how tired you are.”

Faried and Lawson (41 minutes) likely would have headed to the bench midway through the fourth quarter had the Nuggets maintained a 20-point lead, but they stayed on the floor to close out the victory.

It was one of Denver’s few shortcomings of the night.

“We kept getting up big and then we kept losing it,” Faried said. “We can’t have that. We have to be more mature, more of an animal. Once the lion catches the gazelle, he doesn’t let it go. He continues to strangle it and put it out of its misery. We’ve go to do that.”

After winning consecutive games for the first time since the first week of February, the Nuggets will test their killer instincts again Sunday when they open a five-game road trip against the New Orleans Pelicans.

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